NEWSLETTER 15 04/01/84


For about a year, I have been planning a new version of BRAILLE-EDIT. The program is now ready. I am in the process of writing the manuals.

So far, it has been the large print features that have attracted the most attention. For no extra charge, BRAILLE-EDIT is now a large print word processing system. It is also a combined voice and large print system. The large print is only one size, twice as high and twice as wide as normal characters on the Apple. From the reports that I have been getting, the large print is quite readable by persons with a broad range of visual impairments.

The large print feature is overshadowing the dozens of other major improvements. The grade two translator is much better. I could go on and on. I refer to the list of improvements in the October 1983 newsletter. I managed to get almost all of them working. I would be fooling everyone if I said that the job was done. I don't think that the BRAILLE-EDIT program will ever be done. But I doubt that there will ever be as a dramatic a change as has occurred with this new version.


If you have already purchased BRAILLE-EDIT, send be a check for $10 or 4 blank disks. You will get a copy of the two program disks and a copy of the reference card. The reference card is available in print and in braille.

For an additional $30, you will get the full BRAILLE-EDIT manual and the interface guide in print and one alternative forms, audio or VersaBraille tape. I figure that individuals will get the cheap upgrade, and that organizations will get the manuals plus the disk upgrade.

I have received received some criticism for not releasing version 2.45 to new customers yet. I feel strongly that I do not have the right to sell a program that does not have a full manual. Please give me a few weeks to assemble the manuals.


This is the fun part. I get to air my dirty laundry before the entire readership.

I sent out a number of preliminary disks. These can be identified by the lack of "adjust page sizes" on the secondary menu. I have mailed a production copy of version 2.45 to all reviewers. If you have an early version without the upgrade, call or write me without delay.

There have been four versions of 2.45. These are dated 3/21, 3/23, 3/29 and 4/03. The 3/21 version does not have a "U" option from the main menu. The "U" option gives the update date. The 3/23 version fixed the following bugs: read textfiles has been fixed, underlining fixed for large print, and multiple copy printing has been cleaned up. The 3/29 version has fixed single drive disk copying, control/L voices the cursor position clearly, adjust pages works between two drives, shift key mod fixed for N, M and P, and the phantom voiced character at the end of a page has been eliminated. The 4/03 version fixed the control/W command in data entry.

I have had to make a slight change in an editor command in data entry on 3/29. A control/C now has the same effect as the old control/X insert control characters in a text. There was a clash between control/X in the editor and in the Apple 2 plus keyboard handler. The best solution was to offer a parallel way to create control characters in a text. Note that the old function of control/C control/P (cut page) remains unchanged.

I did not list a number of cosmetic fixes. All in all, I am very gratified by the kind of errors that have been reported. They have all been very simple things to fix up. No structural problem has been uncovered.

If you already have version 2.45 and feel burned because you do not have the very latest changes, do not despair. I will upgrade on a one-for-one disk swap (two blank disks for two program disks).

If you do notice something strange about version 2.45, don't keep it to yourself. Write or call me. You might find your bug listed in the next newsletter. If you insist, I will give you credit for finding it. Only by having the "exterminator" working overtime will we get a superior product.


I have had more experience on the Thiel brailler over the last month. In a three day period, I did 4 volume brailling jobs that consumed over 5,000 sheets of braille paper. One job was a tape catalog for Womyn's Braille Press. I made 60 copies of a 48 page catalog of taped books in about 6 hours. I recommend the Thiel very highly. It is sold by Maryland Computer Services. If you or your organization does buy one of these truly high-performance braillers, do not hesitate to call Raised Dot Computing for advice on interfacing to the Apple computer.

I started my first brailling job within minutes of successfully interfacing with the Thiel. It was a mistake. I used the wrong code for the "ow" sign. I set the margins wrong. I now know that the Thiel will only accept the '[' (open square bracket) character for 'ow'. It will not accept the '{' (open curly bracket) for 'ow'. You get the letter i instead.

I will do brailling from disk for any BRAILLE-EDIT purchaser. The cost is five cents a page up to 200 pages, four cents on volume jobs. The charge will be reduced to two cents a page for anyone if their Cranmer Brailler is in the repair shop (provided that I sold the Cranmer). I reserve the right to refuse any job. I reserve the right to wait up to a week to do any job to fit it into my schedule. I reserve the right to lower my costs for any project or organization of my choosing without having to give those same rates to others. If you have any job that would consume over 500 sheets, please contact me first.

The National Braille Association is also offering a brailling service using a Thiel (see article elsewhere in the newsletter). The Raised Dot Computing service is a bit cheaper. I will do reformatting. I will do multiple copies. I will do jobs for organizations as well as for individuals. I hope to be in the braille business for a long time to come.

I have produced a number of handouts in braille. These are free to anyone that wants a copy. Sorry, only one to a customer. I have the instructions for interfacing the Cranmer, the instructions for interfacing the VersaBraille, the instructions for the Form Letter Program, the instructions for the Cranmer Graphics program, and a sales brochure for BRAILLE-EDIT. These materials have been available for free in print for some time now. It is about time I had them in braille as well.


Last month, I reported on a new device called PRINT-IT. It turns out that it comes in two different kinds, a parallel version and a serial version. The difference is in the kind of cable that comes with the device. When I got my box, it had the parallel cable. The serial cable just arrived today. Believe it or not, I had difficulty getting it to work with my letter quality printer (a Starwriter F10-40). But it worked like a charm with my Cranmer Brailler. I assume that it will work equally well with a VersaBraille or an Echo GP. In general serial mode, PRINT-IT produces characters at 1200 baud, 8 data bits, 2 stop bits, and no parity.

I see no reason why others cannot give this unit a try. The cost of PRINT-IT is now $199. I welcome reports from others about this promising new device.


Sales of the Cranmer Brailler have picked up very quickly. I sold the 5 units I had last month in under 2 weeks. If MCS had shipped me 10 units this month, I could have sold them all. The Cranmer Brailler is suddenly a very hot item. At this point I must quote a 60 day delivery period for any new orders. I expect to be able to cover all existing orders in about 30 days.

I have one new wrinkle to my usual sales plug for the Cranmer Brailler. If your unit is in the repair shop, I will do backup brailling from disk for two cents per page. That is less than the cost of paper. This offer only applies if you buy your Cranmer from Raised Dot Computing.


Maryland Computer Services has redesigned the Cranmer Brailler to use stronger solenoids. There has been a reliability problem with the older units. All units shipped after April 1st have the new design. Maryland Computer Services is willing to upgrade your unit for free provided it has been continuously covered by a service contract. If you have let your service contract lapse, then there is a $175 charge if you buy the $360/year coverage on the spot. If you do not buy the service contract, then the upgrade will cost $250.

Every month, Raised Dot Computing has been reporting to MCS who bought the braillers. In turn, MCS has been contacting the purchasers to ask if they want to extend the automatic 90 day warranty. I have been recommending the purchase of a service contract. If you feel that these policies are not being applied properly, give me a call. I have been able to save one purchaser the $175 fee by asking the right questions.

MCS is now scheduling the upgrades. They are scheduling 10 a week starting in late May. Call Lisa Defuso at (301) 879-3366 today.

The upgrade also includes a new set of software. It is my understanding that all the things I griped about in an earlier newsletter have been fixed. In fact, I have a list of all the new changes from MCS. I will print it as soon as I find out what commands to use to have access to all these new features.


Users of the Apple IIe should be aware that slot three is handled differently if they have an 80 column card. If you have an 80 column card, most interface cards will not function properly in slot three. Do not use slot 3 for connection to a Cranmer, VersaBraille, printer or such if you are using an 80 column card.


I have received more information about the RESUS RS212. Originally, it was supposed to be on the market in early 1984. The current story is that it will be available for the export market (i.e. outside of Holland) this fall. This unit will do continuous form paper. The brailling rate is 15 characters per second. The anticipated cost is $3,500. At one point I reported that this machine could braille at the rate of 40 characters a second. I was wrong.


Frequently, I have been asked if there is a talking database program that is an alternative to the INFO program. There now is an alternative. It is LISTER TALKER. LISTER TALKER is a file managing program that provides general database access and is a modified version of a program that has been in use for several years and has been used as a basis for custom software. The program provides dual-key indexed access, does not require unique keys and permits substantial control of report layout. Records may be of any length and have any number of fields. Each field may be up to 245 characters. The program has been modified to provide such features as optional menu display to reduce chatter. Printed output may be sent to any slot, to screen and Echo II, or to a disk file. The cost is $99. That price gives you the disk, printed documentation, braille documentation, and an audio taped tutorial. Contact Mike Firth at CideWare, 104 N. Saint Mary, Dallas, TX, 75214, (214) 827-7734.


Robert Jaquiss is buying a fully outfitted DEST optical scanner in order to provide an optical scanning service. He expects to be fully operational by July 1st. The DEST will only read typewritten material. It will not read typeset material. His prices vary from $1 per page to 50 cents per page, with price breaks of 10 cents at 100 sheets, 500 sheets, 1,500 sheets, 3,000 sheets, and 5,000 sheets. For example, he would charge $800 to read 1,000 typewritten sheets. He plans to offer a service into Apple disks and some CP/M formats. He prefers letters on tape or in braille. The address is Robert Jaquiss, 3839 Pacific Hwy 145, Forest Grove, OR 97116, (503) 640-6473.


A number of users of version 2.45 have wondered if they could make use of the large print, simultaneous output to VersaBraille and Echo II, various keyboard modes etc. in their own programs. These individuals would like to take advantage of the full power of all the input and output modes available in the new BRAILLE-EDIT.

The answer is yes. You need three things. You need to relocate your BASIC program so it locates after 4,000 hex (after the first hi-res page). You need to borrow three files from BRAILLE-EDIT (IO.BIN, CHAR, and SCAN.BIN). Finally you need a list of the PEEKS and POKES to switch all the different modes.

I will be offering a special package for those who would like to experiment with this technology. This package will consist of a sample disk, instructions in print or in braille, and a licensing agreement. It is available for $25 to individuals, $100 for commercial applications, agencies, schools or research organizations. This product is called the "BRAILLE-EDIT Applications Package". No purchase orders will be accepted for the individual level. Be sure to specify braille or print instructions. A commercial license (incorporating these files into your commercially distributed programs) will cost $100/year.

If you always wanted to write a database program that produced output in both large print and voice, this is one giant shortcut. Raised Dot Computing can also produce the manual for your program in paper braille at reasonable rates. Call for details.


As some of you know only too well, BRAILLE-EDIT does not do a good job of formatting paper braille. Even version 2.45 does not solve all of the formatting problems. Version 2.45 handles italics and accent marks. It also translates the letter sign properly. The bug in version 2.44A that messed up centering on the Cranmer Brailler has also been fixed. But there are some areas that still need work. These involve running heads, print page indicators, and some related issues.

There are some other problems. I have not provided good formatting instructions. There are conflicting formatting demands for the VersaBraille and paper braille. It is enough to make any transcriber want to tar and feather me. In all fairness, none of my literature claims that BRAILLE-EDIT produces perfect textbook format.

I will be meeting with Conchita Gilbertson at the NBA regional meeting in Allentown. We will devise a "universal format" for entering print or braille into BRAILLE-EDIT. I will produce two transformation chapters for BRAILLE-EDIT, one called PAPER and one called VERSA. The idea is that a transcriber could enter in material following very careful and clear instructions for the "universal format". Once the document was finished, it could be translated into grade two braille. If a paper braille copy was required, the transcriber would use the PAPER transformation chapter. If a VersaBraille copy was required, the VERSA transformation chapter would be used. The global replace would scan through the whole text and make all the necessary format changes automatically.

Once this new system gets off the ground, I can concentrate on a line oriented editor for the production of Nemeth braille or music braille. In any event, I figure with the Thiel, the Cranmer Brailler, and the VersaBraille, my wife and I have a $25,000 investment in solving any and all format problems.


In the last newsletter, I wrote about examples of modern technology which were not friendly to blind persons. For some reason I included automatic teller machines in my list. This was a mistake. The following article is typical of the replies I received.


David, I must take exception with your comments about Automatic Teller Machines in Newsletter 14. Some are easier than others to use but most can be easily operated and prove to be useful to blind customers.

In 1981 I was working for the Bank of California and in my spare time took the opportunity to look closely at how ATMs could be used by blind customers. I got input from NFB, AFB, NAVH and from several blind people. After talking extensively with senior people at IBM, makers of the most widely used ATM, and also Diebold Corporation, it appeared not to be practical for them and not entirely necessary for blind people to have voice output on the ATMs.

I have used automatic teller machines for several years without any assistance from a sighted person. The banks I use have IBM teller machines which are the easiest type for blind customers to use. The keyboard consists of eight rows of square depressions - touch-sensitive buttons which beep each time you hit a legitimate function. Once you memorize where the functions are, then you can perform all but one of the transactions that sighted customers do. As a matter of fact, I can do a cash withdrawal faster than most sighted customers because I do not have to wait for the prompts to come up on the screen. The only function with a hitch, which I have encountered, is asking for an account balance. The amount appears on the screen and does not print on the receipt. Unless one has a very inactive account it is not a good idea for any customer to count on the ATM balance information being up to date.

The Diebold machine, used by Bank of America among others, is more difficult but not impossible to use. The Diebold has four function keys which change meaning depending on what the screen menu says. You can memorize a sequence of buttons to push and be successful most of the time. If a particular function is out of order however, than the menu might change and throw your sequence off. I did put braille on the B. Of A. menu booklet, however, the IBM machines are really much easier to deal with.

After reviewing the various machines, I produced an ATM pamphlet on cassette for blind customers. I also had a raised-line and braille diagram made of the Bank of California ATM keyboard - one portable diagram three by five inches and another accompanying the cassette 11 by 11 and a half inches. You can probably obtain this instruction packet by writing BankCal, 400 California St., San Francisco, CA 94104. I have sent the cassette to David and possibly he can put an excerpt from it at the end of the audio newsletter. Let's keep up the good work on adapting things that need to be adapted and use the ATMs the way they are.


What you suggest about educational software is true, to some extent. There are three major problems, though. First, you assume that there has emerged a body of software that educates. Most of the critics of educational software would argue, with me, that the crime for which CAI people should be hung is not their use of graphics but the absence of creativity or imagination from their programs. Drills and speed tests are about all that have emerged. I have had occasion to look at a substantial quantity of educational programming and concluded that the blind children forced to rely on human intervention are not really the losers. What the computer can and must be made to do for visually impaired children is the very thing that it is not being asked to do. It is a fallacy to suggest that access to the same incompetent instructional materials is relevant. It is far harder and far more crucial that the visually impaired child be forced to use the computer to do class writing assignments or store notes or sort data. These are the integrative skills that blind children can use the computer to acquire. To hell with what the other kids are doing.

My suggestion to those educators of visually impaired children who have an overwhelming and incurable urge to use drills for their kids, is that they check out such public domain sources of programs as the Apple Avocational Alliance in Cheyenne Wyoming. Their catalog boasts a fair number of basic disks which are extremely cheap. More significantly, the programs were written before it became mandatory for programs to be cute as well as useful. The fact that such programs are not more widely known is an indication of how badly we need a national clearing house for accessible resources. Surely, though, such outfits as TRACE and another special education data base out of Overland Kansas whose name eludes me at present, can and will provide assistance.

FEEDBACK ON VERSION 2.45 -- Emerson Foulke

I received BRAILLE-EDIT version 2.45 Friday. I have spent a few hours this weekend becoming acquainted with its features, and my verdict so far is that it is a smashing success. The differentiation of upper and lower case words is good. The improved pronunciation is good. The additional space for longer chapter titles will be very convenient. The improved cursor control and deletion facility will be a tremendous convenience. I could continue, but let me just summarize by saying that 2.45 is a dramatic improvement.


We have developed a device which will work with any computer which uses a seven bit parallel ASCII keyboard. Preferably one which is interrupt driven. This hardware is not needed for the Apple computer.

Many Braille transcribers do not type but would benefit greatly from having the editing capability a computer can offer, and a Braille keyboard might just be the answer for many. Some features have been added to make it a little more versatile when working with a computer. These include cursor controls so that the operator can move around the screen to make corrections. An escape key has also been added because some programs require this in order to return to the operating system. This type of keyboard allows direct LED code input to the computer, but other code sets could be accommodated. It plugs into the keyboard port in place of the regular keyboard and for those who have the facilities it is a handy little addition to the computer.

The device is built around a forty pin programmable 8748 chip. This EPROM is programmed to output directly to the keyboard port on the computer in LED code. The 8748 is programmed to detect a key closure and execute a software debounce. The six braille keys are treated differently from the control keys in that when a control key is depressed it is debounced and a code is then sent to the CPU. Depression of a braille key only starts the assembly of a character which is not sent until the 8748 detects the release of all six keys. The actual character assembly is a simple ring of the six keys which continues until all keys are released. The number of control keys could be increased using a multiplexing scheme but neither this not multi-key roll-over was implemented in this design.

The 8748 chip is originated at address 0000H. For those of you who do not use the same assembler the program is as follows. What follows is only 314 bytes so entering the data manually is not all that bad. All three portions are programmed into the same chip at the address shown and the unused areas between can be left unprogrammed. Most Intel distributors will program a part for you at something more than a nominal fee of course.

For those who might have need for a listing required to program the EPROM portion of the 8748 chip, a self addressed stamped envelope large enough, and with enough postage, to hold 9 pages of computer printout is needed.

A disk, or a chip, or both can be had for the cost of these. Write if there are any questions. Our address is: Paul F. Evans 340 Daniel Drive Plano, Tx. 75074 and Jefferson Owen 2911 Kendale #101 Dallas, Tx. 75220.

[editor's note: a computer program listing was deleted for lack of space]


National Braille Association

As a field test, the National Braille Association will paper-emboss braille material from 5 1/4" disks that have been prepared by Apple computer. During the field test this service is available to individuals, not agencies. The cost is 6 cents per braille page and quantities are limited to single copies (no multiple-copy orders). The field test period will extend to June, 1984, at which time all procedures and costs will be evaluated. Comments and feedback from users will be appreciated during the field test.


1. Prepare your disk(s) according to the directions on the accompanying sheet. As new programs and equipment become available, we will provide new suggestions for the preparation of disks.

2. Keep a copy of each finished disk. Your disks will be returned, but we are not responsible for any loss or damage to disks in the mail.

3. Send the disk(s) along with a signed copy of this sheet in an appropriate mailer to NBA Disk Output Service, 422 S. Clinton Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620.

4. Your material will be embossed on standard-weight braille paper as soon as possible by volunteers using a Thiel embosser that has 40-cell limit for line length (even for Nemeth) and German cell spacing which is slightly wider than U.S. spacing which is slightly wider than U.S. spacing. We expect turn-around time to be only a few days, but remember, this is a field test. The paper braille will be sent to you by free mail. Your disks will be returned in your mailer along with a bill for prompt payment at 6 cents per braille page. (We will re-evaluate this cost after the text period and lower it, if possible.) There is a $2 minimum charge for any order from NBA. Make all checks payable in U.S. currency to National Braille Association, Inc.

This is merely a service to output paper braille from disks. The requester is responsible for copyright permission, quality of the braille transcription, all formatting details, labeling, binding, etc.

Preparation of Disks

If brailled with the ED-IT program of Robert Stepp:

CATALOG will show names of the files you prepared preceded by a "T". All "T" files on the disk will be embossed, so DELETE any extra "T" files. (The "A" file used for initialization must be left on the disk and will not be embossed.) Check each file to see if the last line is a multiple of 25. (The command NP* will show you the last line with its line number.) If necessary, add blank lines (one or two spaces on each line) in order to make the file end with a multiple of 25 lines per braille page.

If brailled with the BRAILLE-EDIT program of Raised Dot Computing:

The DISK CATALOG will show names of the "chapters" you prepared, preceded by a "B". All "B" chapters on the disk will be embossed, so KILL any extra "B" chapters. (The "A" file used for initialization must be left on the disk and will not be embossed). Check for formatting commands such as: $$i2 (indent 2 spaces at beginning of each paragraph), $$s1 (no blank lines between paragraphs), $$nb (add braille page numbers at bottom of each page.) Add control X, control L to the end of each chapter in order to make the next chapter start at the top of a page of paper.

When a disk is all prepared, make at least one copy of it it keep and put a write-protect tab over the notch on the side of the disk before mailing.

(It is advisable to send in your first disk with about 34 pages o prepared braille ($2 minimum order) in order to check formatting details.)


John Messerly has named his unit the Aardvark I. What follows is an article by him about his new brailler.

AARDVARK I -- John Messerly

Blade Software's Braille Embosser

1) Speed: 7 cells per second. Because the embosser will work with a variety of inexpensive print buffers on the market, the computer need not be tied up while the embosser is outputing a document. Many print buffers have a multiple copy option, providing further versatility and independence from the host computer.

2) Introductory Price: $2000

3) Continuous form printing.

4) Embosses standard braille cell size on standard size braille heavy tag paper (100 wt.).

5) Optional tactile graphics: Resolution is 220 dots wide although 1320 unique positions across may be addressed. Smallest horizontal increment is 1/120". Lowest vertical movement is 1/48". Tactile quality is not as high as that in braille mode, but is certainly legible. Text and graphics may not be simultaneously mixed since a different platen is used for graphics. Mixing would be accomplished by making a second pass over the document in braille mode. Print speed varies with the detail of the image, but typical line drawings output at approximately the same speed as braille mode pages. Impression height may be varied for "shading" by taking advantage of the variable impact intensity and multiple hammer strike options.

6) Universal Power supply standard allowing worldwide power source compatibility.

7) Reliability: Based on a continuous duty printer with field proven firmware intensive technology, this embosser offers increased reliability over the current heavily mechanical embossers. Mean time between failure with a 75% duty cycle is 1 year. Since the average person uses a printer at a fraction of this workload, one is assured of years of trouble free service. Hammer mechanism life is 500 million characters.

8) Warranty: 1 year against manufacturer's defects.

9) Resellable as a state of the art daisy wheel printer. Purchaser is protected from narrow resale market and obsolescence concerns since the embosser is easily converted to a high speed (55 cps C. Itoh F-10 printmaster) daisy wheel printer. Although based on a daisy wheel printer, this embosser should not be associated with low quality dipner dot technique printers.

10) With industry standard interfaces- both parallel and RS232-C, the embosser is compatible with virtually any computer on the market from micro to mainframe. (A variety of protocol options are jumper selectable including ETX/ACK, X-ON/X-OFF providing maximum flexibility.)

11) Low noise operation: less than 70 decibels (1 meter from platen, A scale.)

12) Printer pushbutton controls allow easy stop/ continue interruption of printing, page & line advance, and beginning of page setting.

13) Raised Dot Computing is committed to writing a driver program for BRAILLE-EDIT. This software runs on Apple II or compatible micros.

To date, I have constructed 3 full prototypes using dot matrix, modified mechanical typewriters, and finally, this embosser based on daisy wheel technology. While other versions were far faster than this embosser, earlier models and their derivations were rejected for reasons varying from reliability to legibility.

I believe I have hit on the correct course and will continue to make improvements depending on the response I get to this model of the embosser. Due to the pressure of development costs, up to this point I have been unwilling to take certain risks which could reap significant performance increases. All the enhancement schemes I envision are compatible with this embosser and I will provide the option to retrofit this model with such future updates for a fee. Such retrofiting will not be a trivial task and will require the user to return the embosser to me for service. It is also likely that the modifications will remove the option of easily reconverting the embosser to a daisy wheel printer for resale.

Please contact me, John Messerly at Blade Software for further information or samples of Braille dot quality produced by the AARDVARK. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Contact me at: Blade Software, 12453 Stanwood Pl., Los Angeles CA 90066, (213) 398-4634

For those in the Los Angeles vicinity, I have expertise with Apple interfacing, software development, and some repair (I might also be of assistance with HP minis, CDC Plato system and IBM mainframe applications.) If you are in the Los Angeles area, I would be happy to give any help I can to users of aids for the blind.


VoiceNews is a monthly newsletter that covers topics on speech synthesis, speech recognition, and related voice technologies. There is very little content on handicapped related issues. Nevertheless, some readers of this newsletter may find VoiceNews of interest. The address is VoiceNews, P.O. Box 1891, Rockville, MD 20850. The price is $95/year.


The New Jersey Commission for the Blind is hiring a high tech co-ordinator. The salary is in the high teens or low twenties depending on experience. Duties include working with clients and staff, doing training, job evaluation, and some software and hardware development. Send a resume and a letter to Mr. Gerald Boyle, NJ Commission for the Blind, 1100 Raymond Blvd., Newark, NJ 07102.


The Kurzweil survey results and dribbling in. Several organizations reported that they have been unable to get their Kurzweils to produce ASCII characters. Presumably, these Kurzweils will be able to be used as scanners once the repairman makes a house call.

In general, everyone seems to agree that the error rate varies widely based on the quality of the print. It is my own impression that the Kurzwiel Reading Machine is being used as an optical scanner far more that I thought. The technique is practical enough to be done on a routine basis.

Joseph Lazzaro has suggested a useful technique. He noticed that when he got a period followed by a carriage return, it was usually at the end of a paragraph. He set up a transformation chapter to turn period carriage return into a period paragraph symbol. The other carriage returns are stripped off. The KRM transformation chapter is part of version 2.45.


Raised Dot Computing frequently gets invitations to exhibit at a variety of conferences. These invitations are cause for concern. If we decline to exhibit, it causes bad feelings and a loss of opportunity. If we accept, then something must be done with the thirty to fifty inquiries (phone calls plus letters) we get daily. Persons who call several days in a row without getting a human being get understandably upset. If we decline, some will say we act unprofessionally. If we accept, some will say we act unprofessionally.

There is a solution. Proxies can take the place of the genuine article. There is nothing terribly difficult about setting up a computer system on a table, running around for hours trying to get the house electrician to give you some juice, handing out brochures, and answering the same questions hundreds of time a day. Raised Dot Computing will pay the exhibit fees and some of the travel expenses to qualified applicants. Raised Dot Computing reserves the right to make the final determination of who gets to represent RDC. Here are some of the conferences that I am aware of:

Arkansas Coalition for the Handicapped, Little Rock, April 23-25.

Florida Conference of Educators and Volunteers Serving the Visually Impaired, Tampa, May 10-12.

BOCES of Nassau County, NY, Westbury, NY, May 23-24.

Northeast Rehabilitation Association, Providence, Rhode Island, May 29 - June 1.

National Federation of the Blind, Phoenix, July 2-7.

Blinded Veterans Association, Nashville, August 7-11.

Connecticut Rehabilitation Association, Hartford, Oct. 5-6.

I would be interested in hearing about other conferences. I think I only get invited to the ones in this part of the country. Raised Dot Computing will be at the ACB convention in Philadelphia. I hope to see you all there. [The preceeding remark is not intended to demonstrate any preferences between ACB and NFB. I simply would like to meet all the people I have spoken to over the phone.]

ECHO-TWO UPDATE? -- Joe Lazzaro

The Echo Two speech synthesizer is a fine, low cost output device for programmers who are blind. At one-hundred-fifty dollars, you can't beat it. However, being a nit-picker at heart, I can think of a few improvements.

There should be a new command built into the Echo that would instruct the synthesizer to speak out all the control command settings. Let's call this new command: Control/E/R, for Readout. That is, the Control/E/R command sequence would probably produce:

This "Command Readout" function would be very useful to programmers who are blind, because they would be fully updated as to the status of all Echo-Two control settings. A program written to use speech as its sole output is very different from "screen oriented" software. In a lot of cases, it is necessary to change the Echo pitch, volume, and speech rate, or punctuation modes.

For example: When I am writing a program that deals with mathematics, I instruct the Echo to go into "Most" punctuation mode. This is because the Dash or Minus sign is not spoken unless the speech synthesizer is in this mode. I don't know about most of you out there, but I have a hard time keeping-track of all the Echo settings. Sure, I have a general idea of pitch settings just by hearing the sound, but for certain situations, it would be nice having an exact readout of all settings.


The Echo makes a great "printer." You can use it to save lots of braille, or regular, printer paper. Not only will the Echo save you paper, it can do things a printer can't.

You can make high-quality audio tapes with your Echo/Apple combination. To make tape recordings, connect the output jack on the Echo board to the Auxiliary-Input jack on any standard cassette-tape-recorder. If you don't have an Auxiliary-Input jack, you can connect the Echo's output to the microphone input jack. But, you will have to use a step-down patch-cord. This step-down cable has a resistor built into it that decreases the magnitude of the Echo output amplifier. (Radio Shack has these step-down cables for less than five dollars.)


You can change the Echo control settings from within a BRAILLE-EDIT chapter. You can use the Control/X command to insert Echo Control Codes right into the text, to change volume, speech rate, pitch, letter modes, or word modes, or punctuation modes. For example: to insert a control code to put the Echo into Letter Mode, do the following. Type a Control/X. Then, hit a capital (l). Make sure there is not a space between the inserted control/E and the (l). That's it! To insert a command to put the Echo in Word Mode, insert a Control/E followed directly by a capital (W). To change the pitch, insert a Control/E directly followed by an appropriate number, followed by the letter (P) or the letter (F). F is for flat pitch. P is for a less mono-tone pitch. A word of caution: do not print these chapters with an inkprint printer. The Echo control codes may mess up the printing. So, make two versions of your chapters, one for the Echo, and one for your printer.