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Screen Magnification Software

ZoomText- a family of products (ZoomText, ZoomText Plus, and ZoomText Xtra!); magnifies text and graphics programs. Magnify the full screen, a portion of the screen or a single line at a time. Three built-in fonts provide smooth-edged characters at any magnification. Simple pop-up menus give you instant access to all of ZoomText's features. Magnification levels from 2x to 16x ; three smooth-edged fonts available in all powers; zoom by full-screen, single line, partial-screen or moving lens; scroll, move, size and view the magnified window; track on cursor, mouse and menu bar activity; edge, center and full-window justifications; review mode smoothly pans in all directions at adjustable speeds; wrap lines of text within a zoom window; magnified pop-up menus and hotkey user interface; Configuration files for saving user preference. ZoomText Xtra! Consists of Level 1, which is the most advanced screen magnifier on the market! Level 2 offers a fully integrated magnifier and screen reader designed specifically for the low-vision computer user. Level 3, which is still under development, will add scanning, OCR, form-filling and printing. ZoomText Xtra! incorporates your windows sound card to utilize the speech functions.

InLARGE- (tm) is a screen magnification software package for low vision and learning disabled Macintosh users. The program features the ability to enlarge any portion of the screen from 2 to 16 times, automatic scanning, a crosshairs option for easy cursor location, the ability to invert the screen to white on black, horizontal and vertical image stretching, and a control panel interface. InLARGE is available for all Macintosh and Power Macintosh computers. This program enlarges areas of the screen, full screen, or user created areas of the screen. It will also invert the colors on screen; utilizes a scanning, panning, tracking, hotkeys and advanced options.

Lunar - Lunar is the world's leading screen magnification program for visually impaired computer users.  It has a number of advanced features to help you manage the enlarged screen more efficiently. Magnification from 2x to 32x with five different viewing modes. Image smoothing for clear text and graphics at any size.  Change screen colors with easy to use TV-style sliders. Hooked areas enable you to keep a particular area of the screen permanently displayed. This allows you to keep an eye on important on-screen information, such as the page number in a word processor, or the current cell coordinates in a spreadsheet.

CCTV and Magnification Scanning Systems

CCTV- "A closed-circuit television (CCTV) system uses a stand-mounted or hand-held video camera to project a magnified image onto a video monitor or a television (TV) screen" (from AFB information sheet). A CCTV includes the following basic features: video camera with zoom lens (hand-held or stand); monitor or television (attached camera or external); provide enlarged image of material under camera; magnification range of 2X to 60X+; switchable polarity (black text/white background or white text/black background); controls for focus, magnification, brightness, contrast; X-Y viewing table for easy material movement; variety of monitor sizes (5 inches to 20+ inches); black and white camera with color monitor (allows user selectable foreground and background colors); color camera with color monitor (view full color enlarged images); controls for foreground and background color, split image, color or b/w presentation; line markers or windowing (horizontal and/or vertical screen masking that provides a user selectable viewing window for reading); motorized viewing table

Types of CCTVs

  • hand-held camera connected to a monitor or TV
    • Elite - Achrontech
    • MagniCam - Innovations
    • OVAC 200 & 210 portable
    • MousCam - Vision Technology
    • Big Picture - APH
    • OVAC Vision-Aide electronic magnifier - information, specifications, pricing, pictures of desktop that use a standard television as a monitor.
  • self-contained portables
    • Passport - Optelec
    • TravelX - Achrontech
  • stand-alone units
    • Humanware Low Vision Products - homepage for the ClearView family of CCTVs
    • Optelec, CCTV - information about Spectrum, 20/20, and Passport CCTVs
    • Pulse Data ViewPoint
    • Pulse Data SmartView
    • Outlook - desktop CCTV from Xerox
  • camera units which share a computer's monitor
    • ViewPoint VGA - HumanWare
    • Clearview VGA - HumanWare
    • Spectrum SVGA - Optelec
  • computer/scanner based text magnification
    • Omni 3000 - scanner based reading system, that can also magnify text.
    • JBliss Imaging Systems - the Versatile Image Processor, computer based scanning solution for text magnification. Can also read the information back to you.
    • VisAbility - from AI Squared, scanner based text magnification

Speech Access

Talking Word Processors

Intellitalk- Talking word processing program. Allows student to hear the letter, word, sentence or phrase as it is entered into the computer. Available for both the Macintosh and Windows 3.1, 95 computer operating system. The Pull down menus also has speech output. Student can choose background and font colors.

Write: OUTLOUD- similar to Intellitalk. Allows the student to set background and font colors, and then save the configuration (will look the same overtime).

Speech synthesizers

Hardware versions- can be internal card devices or external serial devices; allow specialized software programs to integrate speech output. Depending on the software program used to read the screen, the synthesizers can work in the DOS, Win 3.x, or Win 95 environment. (Very rarely ever used).

  • Artic SynPhonix
  • Accent PC, SA
  • Sounding Board
  • DECtalk
  • DoubleTalk
  • Keynote GOLD

Software versions- works in the Windows 95/98 environment with a SoundBlaster compatible sound card. If the sound card is used with a screen reading software program, WAV files will not play.

  • AT&T Natural Voices
  • DECaccess 32
  • Eloquence
  • Microsoft SDK

Screen Review Software

JAWS- stands for Job Access with Speech. JAWS for Windows offers all the features that made JAWS for DOS so popular, plus many more. JFW incorporates such features as Smart Screen Technology; the helpful Wizards; a bitmap recognizer; logical, easy-to-use speech pad; various braille displays support. Smart Screen is the hands-off screen reading technology that allows JFW to speak any program automatically. It intelligently looks at the screen and determines what to speak so unfamiliar applications can be used immediately. Menus, dialog boxes and HELP files are spoken without the need for user setup. JFW announces each time a new window is opened or closed, and whenever it gets the focus. JFW uses two cursors. The PC cursor tells you where you are typing on the screen, menu item selected, etc. The JFW cursor acts like the Mouse cursor. It roams around the screen like a person’s eyes, going and seeing where the PC cursor cannot go.

WindowEyes- Window-Eyes was designed to add voice access to Windows 95/98. Window-Eyes is a stand-alone Windows application which gives you total control over what you hear, when you hear it, and how you hear it. Since Window-Eyes is a stand-alone Windows screen reader, it does not require a particular DOS screen reader. This means you can continue to use your existing DOS screen reader while executing DOS programs and Window-Eyes while executing Windows programs. However, Vocal-Eyes users will appreciate the consistent design used throughout Window-Eyes. Many of the familiar and powerful features of Vocal-Eyes can be found in Window-Eyes. There is no longer a need for a hardware synthesizer, as Window-Eyes uses the Microsoft SDK.

Braille Access

Braille Translation Software

More and more people want an ever-greater variety of materials in braille. In North America, Grade 2 braille is the standard. It includes many contracted or abbreviated words. To produce Grade 2 braille, a translation and formatting program must be used in conjunction with most braille embossers (braille printers).

Braille2000 - Braille editing tool that handles all kinds of direct entry Braille tasks with automated page layouts to aid the production of literary, textbook, and music Braille.

Duxbury- is Grade 2 braille editing and translation software. It is available in versions for DOS, Windows and Macintosh computers. Duxbury is easy to use and is compatible with speech and braille output. It supports dozens of word processors through highly accurate ASCII and WordPerfect import bridges. It also supports a number of foreign languages.

Megadots- is a flexible and intuitive MS DOS word processor with software magic that liberates you from the complexities of braille and computers. MegaDots allows you to create, edit and format text and to perform all the basic functions of a standard word processor. The MegaDots style system lets you give one simple command to format each different kind of paragraph for print and Grade 2 braille. It is compatible with speech and braille output.

NFB-Trans- freeware translation program available from NFB. Program and program support can be found on their website at DOS based.

Braille Embossers

simply a printer whose output is braille instead of print. Can be used with any computer using a braille translation software program. What follows is an alphabetical list of all the tested embossers and what they did. The "CPS" acronym stands for "characters per second" and "IBTC" stands for the International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind."

  • Braille Blazer
  • Braillo
  • Everest
  • Index Basic
  • Juliet
  • Marathon
  • Romeo RB-40
  • Thomas
  • ViewPlus

Braille Displays

Braille readers can use Braille Terminals to navigate through Windows 3.x and 95, Windows NT, MS-DOS, IBM OS/2 and UNIX. These braille terminals can be used with a desktop PC or a laptop. They utilize what is called refreshable braille cells to allow the computer screen to be read line by line in braille.

  • Braille Wave
  • Braille Connedt
  • Brilliant
  • Focus
  • Braillex

Portable Devices

  • PacMate BNS or VoiceNote BT- has a braille keyboard layout and speech output.
  • BrailleNote BT or PacMate BX - has a braille keyboard, speech output and refreshable braille.
  • Braille Wave - braille keyboard, refershable braille.
  • PaceMate TNS or VoiceNote QT - have a Qwerty keyboard and speech output.
  • PaceMate QX or BrailleNote QT - has a Qwerty keyboard layout, speech output, and refreshable braille..
  • Mountbatten- braille keyboard; speech, and paper braille output.

All of the above- you can write, review and edit data, keep a virtual address book, and store many pages of Braille or print. Files stored in flash memory can be read but not changed, although you can move files back and forth between the two types of memory if you wish. Access information like time, date and appointments throughout the day as you please. Switch between two different languages at the touch of a key. Use it as the speech synthesizer for your computer. Create output in Braille or print. With a modem, go on-line to send and receive e-mail, and surf the Internet. A regular ink-printer will produce typewritten output when you use the built-in Braille-to-print translation feature (with Braille 'n Speak, Braille Lite, Braille Companion, or Aria).

  • ErgoBraille- has a braille keyboard, some function keys, and speech output.
  • BrailleDesk- has a braille keyboard, all function keys, numeric keypad, and speech output.
  • SQWERT- has a Qwerty keyboard, some function keys, and speech output.
  • TransType- has a Qwerty keyboard, all function keys, numeric keypad, and speech output.

All of the above- Use as a Synthesizer & a Notetaker simultaneously without switching modes. Grade-2 Back Translator & computer braille mode. Standard RS-232 with DB-9 connector uses standard PC cables. PC-File Transfer software is built into the Notetaker, serial cable included. Internal 2" full range mylar speaker. Clean sounding audio amplifier with software controlled Tone and Volume. CALCULATOR. DateBook Reminder Alarms (with Auto Power-Up). Talking Clock with 10 Alarms that Auto Power-up and Speak Your Messages. Ultimate accuracy in Stopwatch / Timer. Rechargeable NiCad Battery (Optional Removable Pack with Quick Charge Pod). RESPONSIVE, ACCURATE & HIGH SPEED Artic Speech (our Trademark) Two Power-Up modes: RESUME (Last Task) or EXPRESS (to Editor) Powerful Editor with familiar computer style features. Automatic file sizing as you work. Instant text insert at cursor. Search & Replace, etc. Menus and Hot Keys. High Quality Keyboard. 1 Mega Byte Flash ROM for system programs and Power Safe files storage. Over 700,000 bytes of Flash File Storage (Safe for 10+ years without power). Save a large number of files (1 - 2,000 depending upon average size). Your data is packed back to back without any wasted blocks of memory! 256K System area can be user updated from a PC,.

Privacy and Anti-theft features (Owner ID can be branded into ROM).

Scanned Material Access

Open Book - Open Book uses a scanner to take a picture of the page, which it sends it to your PC, translates the picture into understandable text, and then speaks the text aloud or outputs to Braille. You can scan and read a page in less than a minute: in English or in more than a dozen other languages. An Open Book gives you flexible, easy scanning. If your page is on the scanner sideways or upside down -- Open Book can read it anyway. Open Book is ideal for scanning books, magazines, and business mail. Or, you can partner your flatbed scanner with an automatic document feeder to read multiple pages quickly and easily. Open Book's flexible interface and detailed on-line Help makes it easy to start reading, using just one key.

Expert Reader- The new, powerful, and easy-to-use stand-alone reading machine from Xerox. Expert Reader combines state-of-the-art reading machine technology, the simplicity of an integrated appliance, and revolutionary price performance. Expert Reader, the newest addition to the Xerox Adaptive Products line of fully integrated reading machines, offers improved levels of speed, accuracy, and ease of use.

Kurzweil 1000- software that works on your personal computer and a scanner to convert the printed word into speech. It has the ability to find key words or phrases within a document, editing of scanned text, magnification of scanned documents to accommodate users with visual impairments, and the ability to specify unlimited bookmarks within a document. Other unique features include: a 175,000 word talking dictionary; the ability to insert a scanned page within a document, and the added convenience of background scanning which allows users to scan while working within another application. Additional features include highly accurate optical character recognition (OCR), the clearest sounding synthetic speech available, and the ability to decipher multi-column text accurately.

page author: Sharon Nichols -