The correct phone number for Henry Brugsch, who is a resource for Talking Term-Exec is (617) 391-0020. Raised Dot Computing appologizes for publishing the wrong phone number.
In the last newsletter, we printed an exhaustive list of cables and cable adapters. In the text description, we accidentially switched the VersaBraille cable gender. The model "B" VersaBraille was shipped with an I/O cable with a female end. The model "C" and "D" VersaBraille is shipped with an I/O cable with a male end. We regret any confusion we may have caused. A tip of the hat to Fred Gisoni for being the only person to call us up on this error.
$h RDC IS SHIPPING BETTE -- Caryn Navy
We're very excited about our new BETTE software. BRAILLE-EDIT Textbook Transcribing Edition is designed to make the work of braille transcribing much easier. We hope that BETTE will help to increase braille availability in general and braille literacy in the schools in particular.
The wide-ranging and thorough comments of our four primary reviewers enabled us to turn the preliminary version of this program into a viable product. We were especially pleased that the different reviewers all had very different suggestions. For all of their work and insights, we thank:
Over the years those interested in braille have adopted braille format standards. The most explicit formatting standards have been developed for braille textbooks, where the reader's awareness of the inkprint original is important.
In 1977 three groups concerned with the use of braille adopted a comprehensive standard for transcribing inkprint textbooks into paper braille. The result is the Code of Braille Textbook Formats and Techniques, 1977, compiled under the authority of the American Association of Workers for the Blind, the Association for Education of the Visually Handicapped, and the National Braille Association. (We abbreviate this imposing title to TBF.) As yet there is no formally adopted standard for producing electronic braille (VersaBraille cassettes). However, the "Guidelines for Electronic Braille Transcription" (Conchita Gilbertson and Rebecca Keenan) are currently under review by the NBA. (We refer to these guidelines as GEBT.)
Both of these standards address a compelling need in textbooks: the braille reader must be able to follow the inkprint original. Both TBF and GEBT establish set routines for representing inkprint in a consistent, readable, and efficient manner. These routines free the individual transcriber from the responsibility of redesigning braille format with every transcription.
Both standards address, for example, the braille textbook reader's need to refer to inkprint page numbers. TBF requires "print page indicators" at the end of line one of each braille page. GEBT requires a print page indicator at the beginning of each VersaBraille page. Including some simple instructions in your text lets BETTE do either of these automatically. The same instructions in your text will produce the desired indicators for paper braille or VersaBraille. In fact, BETTE lets you use the very same data disk to produce properly formatted paper braille or electronic braille. You simply choose different processing routines to get one or the other.
TBF and GEBT define proper format for textbooks. In addition to carrying out these requirements automatically, BETTE includes other frequently used formats for fiction, catalogs, magazines, and other braille documents. Users can also create their own formats to be carried out by BETTE.
BETTE allows for data entry in print, to be automatically translated into grade 2 braille, as well as direct braille data entry (using six keys on the Apple as braillewriter keys). BETTE has much to offer both to experienced braille transcribers and to those just learning about braille transcription.
Many aspects of braille formatting require positioning material somewhere special on the braille page or line. For example, a braille page number must go in the same place on each page; some table of contents lines must end far before the usual righthand margin. You might expect problems if you don't know where new lines and pages start. However BETTE takes care of these positioning details for you. This frees transcribers from worrying about positioning while entering text. They can focus on entering correct text, and just leave the proper formatting instructions for BETTE. A moment's reflection will reveal what a blessing this is if you are entering material in print form, perhaps receiving it from a Kurzweil Reading Machine or an Apple Writer file. While a transcriber need not worry about where new lines and pages begin, there is complete freedom to force a new line or page wherever desired. Since the positioning is not "cemented" while entering text, inserting missed words and fixing other mistakes is very easy.
As an example, TBF requires a running head on line one of each braille page of a textbook. This running head contains a centered abbreviated title and a print page number at the right. Usually one print page requires several braille pages. TBF requires that the print page number on the running head have a prefix indicating the continuing braille page number. The first sheet would say, for example, page 45. The second sheet should then say a#45, the third b#45, etc.
BETTE lets you automate this process. First you tell BETTE that you want this kind of format. You enter the text of the running head only once. You also enter each print page number as you encounter it, and BETTE takes it from there. You can count on BETTE to put the appropriate running head line at the top of each braille page. It includes the print page indicator with the proper "continuing braille page prefix". In addition, when a new print page begins in the middle of a braille page, BETTE automatically generates the line of dashes and page number that marks the transition. BETTE also keeps track of the sequential braille page number and places it properly on the bottom line separated by at least three spaces from the normal text.
BETTE offers several choices for page layout. In addition to formatting textbooks, you can also have BETTE carry out the typical format for books which are not textbooks. There will be no running head or print page indicators. The braille page number will be properly positioned at the end of the first line of text.
Other BETTE commands perform formatting tasks for special kinds of text, such as notes or hierarchical structures. Some carry out the changing "indent and runover" typically used to separate material in outlines and indexes. One command positions the proper number of "guide dots" leading to the page number in a table of contents entry.
Each BETTE command begins with two special characters: \\ (two backslashes in print, dots 1-2-5-6, 1-2-5-6 in braille). (Since the backslash character is not available on the Apple 2 plus keyboard, BETTE also recognizes ^^ (two carets in print, or dots 4-5, 4-5 in braille). Following the \\, there is an English-like word or words. The commands are mnemonic, and the command names are patterned on the intent of the format.
To establish a running head, for example, you type: \\runninghead [TEXT of HEADING] <CR>. To establish the proper indent and runover for index entries, you type: \\mi for a main entry, \\si for a sub-entry, \\ssi for a sub-sub-entry, etc.
For text that is entered in print (as opposed to braille data entry), there are two main processing steps. First the text undergoes a "Global Replace" treatment to systematically change all the \\ commands into commands the computer can understand. Next the text is translated into grade two braille. Text entered directly in braille undergoes only the first of these steps.
BETTE has a number of features designed to help proofreading. One proofreading mode shows braille dot patterns on the screen. This allows a transcriber to check braille translation in a natural way. Another proofreading mode shows the exact layout of each braille page on the screen. These proofreading modes allow a transcriber to find and fix mistakes before anything is committed to paper.
We put a great deal of effort into making the BETTE Manual as clear and complete as possible. It serves a fairly diverse audience, from those just learning about braille transcribers to experienced transcribers, from new Apple users to "old hands" at BRAILLE-EDIT. One of our reviewers even said "the BETTE Manual has style and pizzazz"--surely a first for RDC documentation! Readers will therefore be especially pleased by how easily they can find their way around in it. In all it is close to 100 pages in print.
BETTE is an enhanced version of BRAILLE-EDIT. If BETTE is for you, you needn't worry about missing any of the features in BRAILLE-EDIT. Furthermore, if you already have BRAILLE-EDIT, you will feel very much at home with BETTE. BETTE includes all of the commands and features in BRAILLE-EDIT Version 2.50.
An upgrade from BRAILLE-EDIT Version 2.50 to BETTE costs $100. This includes a copy of the BETTE Manual in print and, if you ask for it, an additional disk copy (if you are a blind user).
There are still many folks out there who have a BRAILLE-EDIT program earlier than Version 2.45 or 2.50. Remember, we are no longer supporting these early programs! If you want to upgrade to BETTE, you also need to get the new BRAILLE-EDIT Manual and Interface Guide. The special upgrade price is $15 for a set of new manuals in one medium. So, older customers upgrading to BETTE should send $130 for the BETTE Manual in print, the BRAILLE-EDIT Manual & Interface Guide in print and audio, and the spiffy new program disk.
For people who have not yet bought BRAILLE-EDIT, you can get BETTE from the ground up for $375 (with advance payment) or for $400 with a purchase order. This includes the BRAILLE-EDIT Manual & Interface Guide, the BETTE Manual, and the ever-useful year's free subscription to this Newsletter.
Raised Dot Computing is pleased to announce that we're is selling a hardware/software package designed for the needs of braille transcribers. The BEST (BRAILLE-EDIT System for Transcribers) Package includes: 1) Cranmer Modified Perkins Brailler 2) BETTE (BRAILLE-EDIT Textbook Transcribing Edition) 3) BRAILLE-EDIT 4) Apple Super Serial Card 5) Cranmer to SSC cable 6) Interactive Cranmer Interface Disk Individually, these items cost $3,635. Together as "BEST", they cost only $3,300. This package consists of everything you need to attach to your Apple 2 plus or Apple 2e system to start transcribing textbook material. The Cranmer Interface Disk is a sophisticated tool to walk you through the process of setting up your system. It will get you up and running in a very short period of time.
Raised Dot Computing offers a modified package for those with the new Apple 2c (Apple compact). The BEST/2c substitutes a special cable for items 4 and 5 above. The price for BEST/2c is $3,200.
The BEST and BEST/2c discounts apply to items bought as a package through only ONE purchase order.
As many of you know, I have been preparing resource lists for Apple/Echo users and have been trying to cultivate new resources. I try to keep people from always having to re-invent the wheel.
Although information arrives faster than it can be nicely compiled, I have been distributing what I have. I prefer to distribute disks containing textfiles, since almost everybody can access textfiles through speech.
My intent is to publish a refined version in both disk and print during the summer of 1985. In the meantime, I am distributing the resource list in draft form.
Please send me a list of what hardware and software you are using with speech (I learn about new products daily this way!) and either two blank disks or $10.00. Please specify if you want the list in print or in disk form.
"Leads" are grouped into 5 categories: 1) Echo-compatible Apple software 2) Hardware and peripherals 3) Computer-related publications/audio newsletters/groups 4) Helpful individuals who are willing to contribute information or assistance to visually impaired Apple users 5) A bare-bones beginning of an IBM list Be aware that these contain personal opinions as well as items that get outdated quickly. Be sure to contact vendors to assure yourself that any products will meet your needs.
You have my permission to duplicate the resource list if you make an exact copy and include my name, address, and cover letter included. Please make sure that the recipient sends me either $10.00 or two blank disks (as well as THEIR system description) to assist in the on-going effort.
If you would like to help other users in specific ways, contact me with the details and I will add you to the "helpful individuals" list.
There is a serious danger that this opportunity to network may be used to expand pirating exchanges. This would be self-defeating. Without harping on this issue, I am issuing an appeal to all to recognize that this is an exceptionally fragile and sensitive period. Companies cannot serve this market if their programs get pirated. Every purchase registers as encouragement for developers to produce accessible materials. The companies I am working with want to offer quality affordably and serve and support you; they cannot do this without sales. I know about a number of grant proposals that are being prepared for the development of talking software programs and other resources. It is important that I hear from you with details of your needs which are not being met.
I need the following information: - Concrete guidelines for talking software - Written descriptions of your software needs - A list of what computer-related publications you have on tape or in braille and where you got it - Any other resource lists you have discovered and their source. -- Sherry Lowry, 10622 Fairlane Drive, Houston, Texas 77024, 713-461-9654
I have been teaching English at the University of Rochester for seven years. During that time, I have been faced with a fair amount of writing--articles and a book manuscript, endless correspondence, notes and comments on students' papers. I had grown accustomed to slogging through with my manual Perkins Brailler and my manual typewriter. I was wasting precious hours of reader time on editing and proofreading my typscript, and I groaned and cursed whenever I had to revise anything. Though I suspected that there had to be a better way, I simply did not have the time to ask the necessary questions and absorb the necessary information.
In May of last year, I found myself with a small miracle in the form of a relatively free month. Someone had asked me whether I had ever heard of a device called the VersaBraille, which was supposed to make it easier for blind people to store and retrieve information. I hadn't heard of it, but I resolved to find out about it. My free month suddenly became a hectic month of phone calls, searching questions, the reading of many brochures--glossy and otherwise. I learned what every reader of this newsletter knows: that computers will work for blind people; that the field is urgent, exciting, and moves with unbelievable swiftness.
Of all the people I talked to, I was most deeply impressed with the folks at Raised Dot Computing. They were the most genuinely helpful, the least apt to apply the hard sell. They seemed eager to help me find what I needed, rather than to sell me their particular package. It also helped that their particular package seemed tailor-made for me. Not to attenuate the climax, I bought BRAILLE-EDIT, an Apple, an Echo II, a Cranmer Brailler, accessories and documentation. The pieces of my system came together quite smoothly, and everything worked as it was supposed to do. I reacted as to a miracle the first time that I heard the Echo speak. In spite of all I had read and been told, I never really believed it possible.
Hearty thanks are due to David Holladay for providing such clear and extensive documentation, and to everyone at RDC for answering my myriad questions with care and patience. I owe similar thanks to my local computer dealer, who gave me a great deal of help in setting up the system. Once things were running, I set merrily to work learning to use BRAILLE-EDIT. The program did indeed do everything that I had hoped it would, and it has already saved me considerable time and given me considerable independence. I am a happy customer.
I would like to share with other readers--especially with other new users--some of the problems I encountered in learning to work with the system. I will employ the format of the questions and suggestions column born in the August-September issue of the RDC Newsletter. My remarks fall into three categories: BRAILLE-EDIT; BRAILLE-EDIT and the Apple; other uses of the Apple.
My greatest problem initially arose from my inkprint printer. David Holladay had spoiled me with his excellent manuals, and I found myself at sea with the opaque prose and techno-garbage of my abominable printer manual. (The printer itself, an Olympia letter quality, is working well for me, but the company must write a better manual.) Eventually, I learned to use the control and escape sequences which would allow me to do the superscriptions and complex underlinings that my work requires. I am quite pleased to read that future versions of BRAILLE-EDIT will directly support a number of inkprint printers. When this feature is added, new users will find difficulties with their poorly documented printers considerably relieved.
But I also encountered some difficulties with the word processing commands which may not be endemic to my printer. I found it very difficult to stop underlining a word that is followed by punctuation. BRAILLE-EDIT likes to underline the punctuation mark, which is bad format. I got around this one by giving up on that particular word-processing command and using instead my printer's escape sequence for underlining. I have also found that if you leave out the space before a word processing command, the command would be printed and would not be executed. [Editor's note: BEX will have a easier command structure The "Latest BRAILLE-EDIT Features" article describes a trick for ending underling with Version 2.50.]
I discovered quickly that the most efficient way for me to work with BRAILLE-EDIT was to compose with the Apple in Braille keyboard mode. When I finished composing, I would back translate my Braille chapter and then print out on the Cranmer a hard copy of that chapter. I would edit and proofread by reading the Braille copy, locating mistakes in the translated chapter with the Control/L command in data entry. When in doubt, I would always listen to the Echo reading the back translated chapter while simultaneously following along in Braille. I found that I caught errors quickly and was assured of a perfect chapter. I strongly recommend simultaneous use of Braille and the Echo to all Braille readers.
I also discovered that there is much truth in the warning set forth by Graham Stoodley in the BRAILLE-EDIT Manual that there are some aspects of the translation from inkprint to Braille that require human judgement. Every Braille reader knows that many given dot patterns can take multiple meanings, and that the particular meaning is often determined by context. I knew that there were several transformation chapters supplied with the main disk which would correct errors that might occur when translating into Grade Two. But I found no transformation chapters to assist the back translator. So I wrote a transformation chapter designed to deal with the errors--and they were remarkably few--that I discovered the back translator was prone to make. I called this chapter BRAILLEFIX, and I put it on to my main program disk. My routine now is to back translate a chapter, run global replace using BRAILLEFIX, and then edit the result. The routine sounds cumbersome, but it is still several orders of magnitude faster than my pre-computer process. (I am putting a copy of BRAILLEFIX on to the disk on which I am writing this article, in case David thinks it is worth sharing with other blind users of BRAILLE-EDIT.)
As soon as I got the computer, I discovered a great eagerness to learn as much as I could about programming. I bought all the Braille manuals that RDC would sell me, and I discovered that Recording for the Blind has an extensive collection of manuals and other books about the Apple. This may be well known to most of the readers of the newsletter, but since I had been most familiar with RFB's holdings in literature and history, I had no idea that their collection of books about the Apple was so large. I buckled down and taught myself as much about Applesoft BASIC as I could absorb, and I have already begun writing simple and doubtless crude programs that will play word-games with my young children. I have a number of queries about computer applications.
Occasionally, we get phone calls asking why we have not published any articles on a number of sensory aids devices which have just been announced.
We would like to print more reviews of new products. If you have used the Oberon Reader, the Visualtek MB0SS-1, the Triformations Personal Brailler, or any other new product, we welcome your articles.
We have just finished a new edition of BRAILLE-EDIT dated Mar. 7, 1985. This version uses the latest Echo/Cricket software, and fixes up a few bugs.
Raised Dot Computing now has the latest version of the TEXTALKER program (version 3.1) from Street Electronics. Version 3.1 gives the Cricket a much better sound than the previous "Cricket version" of BRAILLE-EDIT. In particular, compressed speech sounds a lot better. There is also a new "Echo command". Typing control/E nD puts a time delay between words. The number n can vary from 0 to 7, with zero being the default. Those not familiar with Echo/Cricket voice may appreciate the ability to slow down the speech. The new version uses a higher pitch to indicate capital letters when you are in letter mode. Echo commands can be in upper or lower case.
BRAILLE-EDIT now does a carriage return/form feed sequence to start a new page on an inkprint printer. This sequence is required by some makes of printers. The paragraph marker does not do any carriage returns if it appears at the top of a new page.
In addition, we fixed the VersaBraille transfer problem reported by Nick Dotson, the printing problem reported by Gennie Eachus, and the textfile reading problem reported by Ted Glaser. Each of these bugs were obscure, but caused frustrating problems for the work of these individuals. Each of the finders sent us a problem report with a data disk containing samples of their problem. These data disks were essential to the task of bug extermination. If you feel you have found a bug, please send a COPY of your data and a letter of explanation. If you have identified a bug, you will get a copy of our latest, exterminated disk.
Last fall, I made a slip while re-doing BRAILLE-EDIT. I made a change that goofed up the screen display for "N" (normal) screen in the EDITOR. It's a purely cosmetic problem; data entry itself is not affected, just the screen display. If you never use the screen, then N mode is OK. But if you do use the screen, please use "H" (HI-RES) screen in the EDITOR. (When you set up your configuration, answer the "type of printing to the screen" question with "H"). People using a DP-10 can still use the "N" screen .
Finally, some users have reported that the EDITOR would crash while they edited near the end of a page. Fortunately, this is a very rare occurence. As with any program crash, there is a handy solution. Type control/reset, the RUN 999. BRAILLE-EDIT preserves the information in a "SAVE" chapter. Use Fix Chapters on the Second Menu to recover the data. We finally located and fixed the bug.
Many BRAILLE-EDIT purchasers are confused by our update policy. We try to make all the latest improvements available to any purchaser that needs them. If you find the description of the March 7th edition worthwhile to you, then send for an update. Send four high-quality blank disks or $10 and ask for the latest BRAILLE-EDIT.
BRAILLE-EDIT is now being shipped with a grade one translator. Here is how you use the grade one translator: First, make a copy of the main program disk. Next, use the Second Menu to copy chapter ZQONE on drive one to chapter ZQFOR on drive one. This procedure replaces the grade two translation table with the grade one translation table. Any use of the "G" option on the Main Menu will invoke the grade one translator. You may wonder how to do a grade two translation with this modified disk. The answer is you cannot. That is why you must copy the program, and then modify it.
There is now an option "H" (for Heading Test) in the Main Menu. This is a feature designed for BETTE users. It allows a sighted user to figure out how long a title or heading will be when it is translated into grade two braille.
There is an existing feature of BRAILLE-EDIT that has been poorly documented. You can "turn on" and "turn off" the forward and reverse braille translators by using two special sequences. Each is four keystrokes. To turn the translator off, enter @- (space, at-sign, hyphen, space). To turn the translator on again, enter @l (space, at-sign, lowercase "l", space). These symbols allow you to mix grade two braille with computer braille.
Underlining is turned off by either a paragraph symbol or a command. David Richman brings up the issue of ending underlining before a punctuation character. There is a way of doing this with the existing BRAILLE-EDIT. Here is a sample: Star Wars Weapons. some more words The phrase "Star Wars Weapons" will be underlined, but the period will not. Note the use of two spaces after the
In the January newsletter, outdenting was discussed. BRAILLE-EDIT disks dated after November, 1984 will "indent" a negative number. By entering $$ml5$$-i5, each paragraph will be outdented by 5 characters. If you enter $$ml10$$i-6, the first line of each paragraph will start at absolute character position 4, with subsequent lines starting at character position 10.
Three commands are used to establish running heads. The command $$vsN "skips" line N - that line on a page will contain no text for subsequent pages. The command $$voN makes line N "ordinary" again. This command clears any command affecting line N. The commands $$vh1, $$vh2, $$vh3, and $$vh4 establish the text for a running head on lines 1 through 4. It's possible to have the top 4 lines of each page contain running copy. A $$vh5 or greater won't work. To put in a running head, use $$vh1 followed by text, followed a carriage return. Here is an example: $$vs2 $$vh1 $$h MADISON GENERAL HOSPITAL <CR> Notice that you can use other word processing commands like $$h to format the running head. The $$vs2 separates the running head from the rest of the text. You can have up to four lines of heading, from $$vh1 to $$vh4. To change a running head, you need to first clear out the old text with a $$vo command. For example, to change line one, do the following: $$vo1 $$vh1 $$h UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL <CR>
These $$v commands are not available on BRAILLE-EDIT disks with an update before December, 1984.
A number of excellent programs for blind personal computer users have been carefully designed to meet some specific needs, including word processing and braille translation. Such programs let blind users work conveniently and efficiently without reference to the screen. Yet a visit to any computer store will reveal the incredibly varied ways of using a personal computer. In the absence of compatible speech access, blind users have found this world of choices agonizingly beyond their reach.
The obvious wish has been for a generic solution, a magic box or program that would make anything accessible. The phrase "transparent speech access" has come to mean voice access which does not disturb whatever else is happening on the computer. Like a transparent window, it is invisible to the computer as it goes about its other business. To give good access, a transparent speech access system must give the user good control over what is spoken and ability to scan the screen freely.
The Enhanced PC Talking Program is a piece of software providing transparent speech access. It was written by Ronald Hutchinson of Computer Conversations. It is not just for word processing, nor any other specific application. It does not rely on one particular speech synthesizer. It will work with 95 per cent of the software written for the IBM, including word processors and spreadsheets but naturally excluding programs oriented around graphics. It works with such speech synthesizers as the Echo PC, DecTalk, Type 'n Talk, the and others. This speech software works with MS-DOS, PC-DOS and DOS 2.0 or greater (including DOS 3.0) on computers such as IBM PC, XT and AT, Compaq, Tandy 1000 and others. It also works with IBM 3270, 3278 and 5251 emulators as well as others. The cost is $500 to individuals and $700 to organizations.
The program is designed for easy loading. The disk contains only two files: the program itself and the documentation. It is loaded from the DOS level. As the disk is not copy-protected, you can save whatever DOS you want on the disk. Then the disk will boot and come up talking. After booting DOS, simply type TALK. You'll get a brief copyright statement. This is followed by a message asking if you want a list of instructions. Once loaded into memory, the program disk can be removed. The Enhanced PC Talking Program will not collide with any other program.
Many of the speech functions are toggled on or off by the same command. They are very easy to learn. Documentation clearly outlining them is available from the program disk by typing TALK.DOC. This file is an exact duplicate of the seven printed pages that comprise the hardcopy manual. It should not be necessary to refer to this file more than once or twice. The speech software voices all keystrokes (or does not, as you wish), except for some very minor, obvious keys like shift and spacebar.
The program allows full interaction with whatever software you are running at the time. It uses the ten "function keys" F1 through F10 pressed together with the Alt key. If your software uses these as part of its own command structure, two alternatives are also available.
The functions Alt/F1 through Alt/F5 toggle various speech modes. The varied combinations of these modes provide great flexibility. One such function determines whether dialogue with the computer is to be voiced (keystrokes and output to the screen). These functions also determine the level of spelling (spelling nothing, spelling only words all in capitals, or spelling everything, with or without announcing uppercase). Another determines whether punctuation is announced.
The Alt/F1 through Alt/F5 commands are available in conjunction with the next five functions, Alt/F6 through ALT/F0. These functions direct the Enhanced PC Talking Program to voice things from different parts of the screen.
Lines are labeled as A through Y, and a selectable mode will label each line as it is read. You can read the line on which the cursor is positioned, either in entirety or from the current cursor position to the end of the line, with Alt/F6 or Alt/F7 respectively. There is also a way to read word by word, if desired. Alt/F8 tells the current cursor position. Alt/F9 reads the entire screen. A number of other commands begin with Alt/F10. Alt/F10 followed by a letter from A to Y will read the selected line.
You can immediately cut off any of these voice output functions, without waiting for a speech buffer to clear. Hitting the Alt/F10 - (dash) twice will instantly stop voice output, leaving all of the speech functions intact.
Alt/F10 1 will allow you to read columns. This can be particularly handy in spreadsheet work.
All of the above functions work while you are editing. None of the speech functions disturb text on the screen, or the cursor position. Cursor movement is accomplished normally as if the speech software were not there. However, if you wish, direction of cursor movement is voiced and the character under the cursor is spoken when the cursor moves. If you wish to move character by character to find an error, simply move the cursor in any direction and the character under it will be spoken immediately as it moves.
The Enhanced Talking PC Program does not contain routines to set speech parameters, such as pitch, rate and volume. These are controlled by the specific synthesizer in use. I like the fact that this software does not need to be customized by the user for a particular computer or synthesizer. Control characters embedded in the text are not voiced, but control characters input into text are voiced as they are typed.
The "Roaming Reader" is an alternate mode available for just reviewing text without any danger of inadvertently changing it. All the functions previously described are still available. In most cases, it will not be necessary to enter this mode, since you can review all your text as you edit. Cursor movement is available but will not move the "real" cursor; that is, if you want to read character by character, you can move the cursor; however, when you leave Roaming Reader, your cursor will be back where you had it before entering this mode. Roaming Reader allows you to check any function without actually performing it.
Some interesting offshoots of this program involve use with devices other than voice synthesizers.
Instead of directing the Enhanced PC Talking Program output to a serial voice device, you can send it to a VersaBraille. The program doesn't care what device is at the end of the cable. This can be very useful for obtaining selected material in computer braille. When you want voice again, just reconnect it, and it will be exactly as before. You can even direct output to two serial devices, yielding simultaneous voice and computer braille output.
The one drawback in using this software to output to a braille device is the handling of punctuation. When text is brailled in punctuation off mode, absolutely no punctuation will appear in the braille output. If punctuation is turned on, the names of the punctuation marks are written as words. Thus a . will appear as the word "period". Of course, one does not notice this with just speech output, since these punctuation names are pronounced properly. There are simple ways to remedy the braille punctuation problem. Mr. Hutchinson will gladly assist anyone wishing this kind of information.
Another fascinating application is with a vibrator for the deaf-blind. The speech software does not impede the Morse Code driver program written by Robert Wallace of Washington, D.C. for such vibrators. As keystrokes are echoed by the speech synthesizer, they are also echoed to the vibrator, allowing a deaf-blind person to "listen" as he types. Applications of this have not been fully explored as yet; but it portends an exciting breakthrough for the deaf-blind community in the computer field.
A minor inconvenience of the program is that searching for a particular item can be somewhat awkward in Roaming Reader mode. It would be nice to be able to place the cursor at a certain point and be there immediately upon going into Roaming Reader. This is more of a nuisance when you are working directly in DOS or your application software lacks its own search facility. Many software packages, including spreadsheets and most word processing programs, do have their own search facility.
Mr. Hutchinson is available for questions and interfacing assistance. He is willing to demonstrate over the phone to help with any problems. His program is quite complete at this point and updates should not be needed. However, he welcomes suggestions at all times and is open to individual needs. If updates did come along within one year of purchase, they would be free. After that, they would cost $50.
I am very excited by this program. I like being able to issue commands to the Talking Program without having to interrupt whatever else I am running by "freezing the screen" for review. I can continue to interact fully with my application software and change the screen right along with using the flexible voice functions.
Finally, this program does not in the least effect the sighted colleague who may need to work with your files or with other programs on your PC. Alt/F10 5 conveniently turns off all of the Talking Program's functions. Since it is a toggle command, hitting it again will restore the program without having to reboot or disturb the current work on the screen.
Due to the flexibility and simplicity of the Enhanced PC Talking Program, it won't be long before it becomes an essential piece of software for many blind PC users. The address to write for further information is:
I am available for demonstrations and consultation on this program, especially for anyone in the New England area. Please feel free to call Olga Espinola at (617) 791-2272, ext. 402.
A talking checkbook program, "Talking BANK'N" is now available for $59.95. It works with the Echo synthesizer or with a braille input-output device.
Talking BANK'N enables you to maintain a checking account, write checks, track and report transactions (using up to 50 expense codes), and reconcile your bank statement. Talking Bank'n can print payee names and addresses on checks, which can then be mailed in window envelopes.
The program has on-line documentation. It also comes with ECHOTRANed and grade two braille documentation files in both BRAILLE-EDIT and textfile formats. Hard copy braille documentation will be available very soon. Also included is a plastic signature guide that enables you to independently sign the printed checks. Tractor-feed checks made by NEBS are available; please enquire at the address below for costs.
Talking Bank'n is written in machine language, so it is very fast. You can review the screen through the standard Echo review commands and the Apple arrow keys. When you start up, you are presented with the main menu of the program with speech output using the Echo default speech parameters. Users can change the parameters by modifying the HELLO program or by making a specific request when ordering.
The programmer, Mr. Hal Carter, requests that orders or requests for information should be processed through Nick Dotson, 1901 North Baylen Street, Pensacola, FL 32501, (904) 432-0894 evenings. You can also leave a message in electronic mail on the BRAILLE BOARD for SYS OP (904) 433-5325.
I've had my VersaBraille for quite some time now and have some tips that I would like to pass on to other users.
-- If you want to write continuously, but don't want to look at the display while inputting, you can type chord/R T chord/R L. The display will say "busy", but the unit will receive everything you type in. At about character 900, the unit will automatically write to tape and start a new page. However, the receive buffer will not absorb data while the previous page is being saved. It is critical to use a chord/L, or else certain letters cannot be entered at all! Only use this entry mode when you are appending material to the end of a chapter. The VersaBraille will lock up if a page advance does not create a brand new page.
This entry mode might be of use to deaf-blind persons who cannot hear the almost-full-page warning beeps, but can feel the vibration caused by the spinning tape transport. Of course, the value of this technique would be increased if the receive buffer would take data during the page flips. You can still get the "where am I?" display in this mode. You can also return to normal display mode with a chord/R M.
-- Don't eject a tape while it is formatting the extra 20 or so pages that are written after page 200. If you eject it early, you won't get a valid table of contents.
-- Never plug in the charger while the VersaBraille is on.
-- Don't set the CD communications parameter to "yes" except in rare circumstances. Setting it to "yes" causes a total lockup when a modem hangs up.
-- When preparing data using computer braille off-line, set the translation parameter to "C" (computer braille). Only at the "C" setting can you control the case of your characters. Test the case using chord/K when the cursor is over a suspect letter. It should beep once for lower case, and twice for upper case.
-- Before you use your VersaBraille to log onto a UNIX-BASED system, make sure you are in lower case.
-- A handy VersaTrick is to include a space at the very end of each VersaBraille page. A final space will be recognized by the "word search" function as two spaces. Searching forward for two consecutive spaces will take you immediately to this space at the end of the page, if you haven't used two consecutive spaces on the page.
-- National Braille Press is selling some very handy VersaBraille tapes for your quick reference.
The "Speller" is based on The Webster's Second College Edition. It gives the spelling and syllabification of over 33,000 words. It even has a "Word Finder Table" which helps you look up a word when you know how to pronounce it but not how to spell it.
The "Daily Planner" is a notebook full of reference information to help you use time and your VersaBraille efficiently. It contains a calendar, tips on using the VersaBraille, phone numbers of interest to VersaBraille users, and more.
For more complete information contact National Braille Press, 88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115; phone (617) 266-6160.
This is an explanation of how to use the VersaBraille to save text that is read aloud by the Kurzweil Reading Machine. The procedures which follow may vary for different models of either machine. If this document doesn't answer your questions, please feel free to contact the Marketing Department at Kurzweil Computer Products at (608) 864-4700.
The only cable that you need for connecting the two machines is the VersaBraille I/O cable, supplied by TSI. With some combinations of models of the two devices, you will also a need a gender adapter, as described below, to make things fit together. Plug the VersaBraille I/O cable into the lower, male port on the Model 3 KRM. On the Series 400 KRM, use the center port, which is female and found on the lower left. Both the VersaBraille I/O cable and the KRM have been supplied with jacks of different genders with different machine models. Here are the possibilities for connecting them: Model 3 KRM to "B" VB - no adapter needed Model 3 KRM to "C" VB - female-to-female adapter needed Series 400 KRM to "B" VB - male-to-male adapter Series 400 KRM to "C" VB - no adapter needed
Load the terminal overlay and type chord/R E to change the parameters. The only difficult parameter is the baud rate. Some reading machines were shipped with random baud rates. If you get garbage, you may have to play baud rate roulette on your VersaBraille until you get clear text. Set the following parameters: b 4800 (or whatever) d 8 p n s 1 t c (or 1 as desired) ll (don't care) pl (don't care) ci sp cr 0 et fs dx h hs dc3 ai y co cr ak n dci n cts n cd n
On a fresh tape, save this overlay as chapter "KRM", making use of the chord/O command. We are not interested in the terminal overlay itself, except as a vehicle in which to save these parameters. Loading the "KRM" overlay in the future will set the parameters to the values you saved.
1) Cable the devices together. 2) Turn on the reading machine and then the VersaBraille. 3) Set special command 45 on the reading machine. 4) Load chapter KRM on the VersaBraille. 5) Type chord/R M on the VersaBraille to clear the overlay but keep the saved parameters. 6) On the VersaBraille start a new chapter and turn the cursor on. 7) Type chord/R T to start the transfer. The display will say "busy". 8) Start reading material on the reading machine. Periodically, the VersaBraille will change pages. 9) Hit the eject button on the VersaBraille when the transfer is over.
We've received several requests for the lowdown on sending files between these programs. It is really a straightforward procedure; following these step by step instructions should guarantee success.
First, some background about operating systems. To quote the Apple 2e Owners Manual: "a Disk Operating System is the software that organizes the computer's resources and makes them available to you and to applications programs running on the computer." (Examples of applications programs are BRAILLE-EDIT and AppleWorks.) Disk Operating System is usually abbreviated DOS (to rhyme with BOSS). The DOS controls how data is written to and read from the disk drives; how information is displayed on the screen and spoken through voice; and how data typed on the keyboard is interpreted.
In the task at hand, we have two disk operating systems to contend with. The "old standard" for Apple computers is called DOS 3.3. The AppleWorks program is written in ProDOS, which is Apple's new, speedy, operating system. Fortunately, Apple knows that there are a lot of programs out there written in the old reliable DOS 3.3, so Apple has made transferring data between the two DOSs relatively simple.
- BRAILLE-EDIT program disk - Data disk initialized in DOS 3.3 format - AppleWorks program disk - Data disk initialized in ProDOS format - ProDOS Users Disk
The last item is essential; you should have received one with your Apple system. If not, contact your Apple dealer, Apple users' group, or Apple directly.
Both the AppleWorks and BRAILLE-EDIT programs store information in unique binary files. If you try to transfer these types of files, you will get garbage. Both the AppleWorks and BRAILLE-EDIT programs can change the information in their respective binary files into "ASCII textfiles". AppleWorks and BRAILLE-EDIT can both read ASCII textfiles into their binary file formats. So, transferring between the programs involves three steps.
First, you take a binary file and create an ASCII textfile. Second, you convert the ASCII textfile from ProDOS to DOS 3.3 (or vice versa). Third, you take the ASCII textfile and create a binary file. Step One uses one of the application program disks. Step Two uses the ProDOS Users Disk. Step Three uses the other application program disk. Both the AppleWorks and BRAILLE-EDIT Manuals describe how to do steps one and three. The ProDOS Users Guide describes step two.
Let's say we have an AppleWorks Word Processor file called "CHEEKY" contained on a ProDOS volume called /SPARTAN. Add CHEEKY to the Desktop. Press (Open Apple)-P for "Print". Choose option 3 "Print to a textfile (ASCII) on disk". AppleWorks prompts: PATHNAME? You must enter the full pathname: slash, then the volume title, then slash, then the name for your textfile. To simplify things, make sure this textfile name just consists of letters. Let's call the new ASCII textfile "RED". The pathname would be /SPARTAN/RED.
You now have a properly-named ProDOS-format ASCII textfile on disk. Remove your AppleWorks program disk from drive one, and boot your ProDOS Users Disk. At the first menu, hit C for CONVERT. Wait for the silly "DUCK" message to go away. Remove the ProDOS Users Disk from drive one, and insert the DOS 3.3 format data disk. There are three things you have to set before you can actually convert the files. Hit P to change the ProDOS prefix from /USERS.DISK to the data disk prefix. If you can type exactly, choose P for Choose by PATHNAME. If you're lazy (like me) hit S for Choose by Slot & Drive. Enter slot 6 drive 2, and the new pathname will slide right in there--in our case /SPARTAN. Then hit C to Change the DOS 3.3 slot & drive (in our case 6, 1). Lastly, hit R to Reverse the direction of transfer, so that the top line says: ProDOS to DOS 3.3.
At last! time to convert. The center of the screen says: Transfer what files: /SPARTAN. Hit carriage return and you'll get a catalog of the ProDOS disk. Select a file by hitting the spacebar. Move between files with the arrow keys. Once you have chosen the files, hit carriage return and wait. The ProDOS Users Disk will create ASCII file names by chopping off the volume prefix.
Now you have a DOS 3.3 disk with ASCII textfiles. Put this disk in drive two, put the ProDOS Users Disk back in your flip file, and boot BRAILLE-EDIT in drive one. Get to the SECOND MENU and hit R (for Read a Textfile). If you have forgotten the newly created file name, do a full disk catalog to be reminded. You can name the new BRAILLE-EDIT chapter what ever you like. Once you have your new chapter, you may want to get rid of the textfile. Type Q at any MENU prompt, then type DELETE RED,D2 at the BASIC prompt. Type RUN and you're back in BRAILLE-EDIT, ready to roll.
Go to the SECOND MENU and hit W (for Write a Textfile). The file name for the new textfile should follow the AppleWorks rules for file names--a maximum of 15 characters with periods but no spaces. Remove the BRAILLE-EDIT disk and boot the ProDOS Users Disk in drive one. Hit C for CONVERT and wait for the same silly "DUCK" to go away.
The next step is to tell the program the ProDOS prefix of the ProDOS-format data disk that you will be transferring to. Insert the ProDOS data disk in drive one, then hit P to set the prefix. Then hit S to Select by Slot and Drive. The new prefix should slide into the display line on top. You don't need to change the direction of transfer or the DOS 3.3 slot and drive if the DOS 3.3 data disk is in drive two. Hit T to list the DOS 3.3 files. You can only transfer files that have a T in the first column of the catalog. Move through the catalog with the arrow keys, and select the files you want by hitting the spacebar. Hit carriage return, and the program automatically uses the DOS 3.3 textfile name for the new ProDOS textfile.
You're almost there! Boot AppleWorks, then select 1 (Add files to the desktop). Then select 3 (make a new file) then 2 (from a textfile (ASCII) on disk). Type a different name for the new AppleWorks file; if you don't then AppleWorks won't let you save two files with the same name on the same disk. As you examine the new file, you'll notice some strange looking things. When BRAILLE-EDIT writes a textfile, it is the same as "printing" to a disk. The word processing commands are executed. If your original BRAILLE-EDIT chapter had $$s2$$i5, then every paragraph in the new AppleWorks file will have two carriage returns and then five spaces. If your original BRAILLE-EDIT file had any underlining (by a $$h command, for example) then the AppleWorks file will contain _# (underscore, number sign) for each underlined character.
AppleWorks's search and replace function is pretty primitive; it may be easier to write your BRAILLE-EDIT files with AppleWorks in mind.
The lengthiest part of the transfer process is the second step, the DOS 3.3 to ProDOS conversion. You can transfer a lot of files at the same time, however. The most efficient method is getting two half-full data disks (one of each DOS format) and then requesting a long list of transfers. Remember to use legal file names. Remember that BRAILLE-EDIT word processing commands will be executed when "printed" to ASCII text file on disk. Be patient, and good luck!
Bank Street Writer is a simple word processing program that is heavily used by schools. I have been working on getting BRAILLE-EDIT to read and write Bank Street binary files. So far, I have mixed results. BRAILLE-EDIT version 2.50 dated December, 1984 and after are capable of reading Bank Street files. I have had no sucess in directly writing a binary file that conforms to the Bank Street Writer format.
To read a Bank Street file, just use the "Read Textfile" option on the Second Menu. When the program prompts for the textfile name, just give the name of the Bank Street file. You will be asked for a new chapter name. Give a different name for the BRAILLE-EDIT chapter you will be creating.
However you can move files from BRAILLE-EDIT to Bank Street Writer by using the "trade language" of Textfiles. First make a textfile out of your BRAILLE-EDIT chapter. In order to get Bank Street to accept this textfile, you have to use the "special functions" menu. When you boot the Bank Street disk, hold down the escape key. The program will prompt "Utility Menu". Select the third choice, "File Conversion Program". When the File Conversion Program loads, pick choice two, to convert from textfile format to Bank Street Writer. That is all there is to it.
The South Carolina Commission for the Blind is interested in hiring an Electronics Technician and an Electrical Engineer to work on sensory aids equipment. They hope to set up a program similar to one in Kentucky run by Fred Gissoni. For specific information, contact Mr. John Aiken at area code (803) 758-2605.
Conchita Gilbertson has really been a pioneer in using computers for braille transcription. Along with Rebecca Keenan, she developed the guidelines for preparing textbooks on VersaBraille tape.
Conchita Gilbertson is expanding her role as a consultant and an independent transcriber. She is leaving her position at the Virginia IMRC. She is available to conduct training sessions, workshops or evaluations. Contact her at: Custom Transcriptions, 636 Carolina Drive, Ruther Glen, VA 22546, (804) 448-3086.
Computer Aids has moved to a new location. Their new address is: Computer Aids Corporation, 124 W. Washington Blvd., Lower Arcade, Fort Wayne, IN 46802, (219) 422-2424.
Street Electronics is setting up a new "Special Needs Division" to deal with applications for the Disabled. Street Electronics continues to work hard at keeping abreast of this rapidly expanding field. For more information, contact Andrew Clare, Street Electronics Corporation, 1140 Mark Ave., Carpinteria, CA 93013, (805) 684-4593.
Street Electronics is willing to make an 80 column version of the DOS 3.3 TEXTALKER for the Echo and Cricket. They would work on this if enough people wrote in to say it would be a good idea. Do it today.
There is a company called FlipTrack Learning Systems selling audio cassette information on personal computers. We have not ordered any of their materials, and we cannot vouch for how appropriate they are for visually impaired persons. Their guide to the Apple 2e using DOS 3.3 is $57.00. It includes a print guide and three audio tapes. They offer a moneyback guarantee if you are not satisfied within 15 days. The address is FlipTrack, 999 Main, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137, (800) 222-3547.
Do you have a list of Apple PEEK and POKE locations? Do you have a list of good assembly language subroutines in the Apple monitor that you can CALL? If so, we would like a copy so we can distribute it.
Tom Weishaar, the programmer responsible for ProntoDOS, is now producing an informative publication called Open-Apple. It is filled with interesting news and detailed tips of special interest to Apple programmers. Right now, this monthly publication is available in print for $24 a year.
We contacted Mr. Weishaar about making an Apple textfile disk edition of Open-Apple. He suggested a charge of $40 for a combined print/disk subscription. How about it? If you'd be interested, please contact us at RDC.
The address for print subs is: Open-Apple, 10026 Roe, Overland Park, Kansas 66207.
Raised Dot Computing is in the process of writing a totally new version of BRAILLE-EDIT. Around the office we call it BEX for "BRAILLE-EDIT, Brand X". Presumably we'll have a more attractive name by the time the program's finished! Once BEX is ready, RDC will be selling both regular BRAILLE-EDIT version 2.50 and BEX. We feel the marketplace has room for both programs.
BEX will have a line oriented editor that also has the advantages of a character oriented editor. The program will allow you to know exactly what will show up on any line of any printed (or embossed) page. Filling out forms will be much easier. BEX will allow transcribers to easily prepare spacially oriented material. Because BEX will not put "hard" carriage returns in the text, it will be able to print a chapter to a variety of different carriage widths without any reformatting.
The Apple 2c and an Apple 2e with extended 80 column card have 128K of memory. BEX will make extensive use of this extra 64K. The program will allow you to maintain a six page chapter (24,000 characters) totally in main memory. This means fast access to a medium-sized document without waiting for every page to be written to the disk. The three most useful parts of the program, the EDITOR, the PRINT OPTION, and GLOBAL REPLACE will be kept in RAM. This means you could write medium-sized chapters, transform them, and print them without any time-consuming disk access. These and other features will make it easier to use the program with a one drive system.
The new program will allow you to configure as a beginning user, an intermediate user, or an advanced user. The intermediate level will be similar to the current BRAILLE-EDIT. The idea is to simplify the prompts for beginning users, but still have all the power of the program available when they "graduate" to the next level. For beginners, the configuration questions would be easier and some features would be locked out. For advanced users, the prompts would be shorter. We feel that the new program will be much easier for the beginner to learn and to use.
Raised Dot Computing has written a new program to allow the computer to examine itself internally. It can tell the Apple model (2 plus, 2e, or 2c), and it can tell which cards are in which slots. BEX will use this software to shorten the configuration questions. For example, the program would only ask if you wanted Echo speech if it detects an Echo circuit board in the computer.
The existing BRAILLE-EDIT allows output to the screen, an Echo, and one slot-based device. Examples of slot-based devices are the 80-column card, a printer, a braille terminal, and non-Echo voice devices. BRAILLE-EDIT can only send output to one of these devices at any one time. BEX will be able to simultaneously send infirmation to up to four slot-based devices (the 80 column card, a voice device, a paperless brailler, and a printer).
BEX will allow the user to issue commands to re-arrange the input/output "on the fly" (very similar to the Echo command system). You'll be able to turn on or off each of the four different devices mentioned above. You could turn voice output off for data entry, and then turn it back on later. You could turn the VersaBraille off during the MENUs, and then turn it back on for proofreading.
BEX will have two screen modes larger than the existing "large print". In the existing BRAILLE-EDIT, the large print mode has 20 characters across. In the new version, there will be a mode with 10 characters on each line, and a mode with 5 characters on each line. In this largest screen size, each screen contains only 15 characters.
Currently, the 20-column large print display is only available in the EDITOR and PRINT TO THE SCREEN. In BEX, the three large print modes will also be available for the menu prompts. This will make BEX more powerful for partially sighted users.
Raised Dot Computing plans to write hard-copy large print drivers for the Epson FX-80 and the Apple Imagewriter. These drivers will allow BEX to produce voice, regular print, large print, and braille from the same text.
Many users have asked for a way to restart a printout in the middle of a print-run that got messed up (for example if the paper jams). You'll be able to say "please start the printout at the top of page 19". It is our hope that this feature will reduce user frustration when things start to go wrong.
As mentioned in a previous newsletter, we will build in printer control characters for many common features like underlining, subscripts, superscripts, bold face, and a variety of type pitches. Of course, this will only work if your printer is capable of these features. We also can't write printer-specific codes without printer manuals. That's why we're continually pitching for more of them.
Virtually everyone has suggested ways of improving the editor. We will be implementing quite a number of significant improvements. These will include nifty ways of moving, copying, and deleting blocks of text. You will be able to cruise through a lot of text with a minimum of disk access.
Improvements to GLOBAL REPLACE will allow the use of logical expressions. As an example, you could replace a certain string of characters only if they occur somewhere within parentheses. The use of logic will allow more specific searches. In addition, GLOBAL REPLACE will allow wildcard characters.
While we are at it, we will be overhauling the translation tables to increase their accuracy. As always, we welcome written comments about the translators.
We are cooking up a special delight for advanced users. BEX will have a special "remember mode" that will allow you to automate frequently used sequences of operation. Some users may recognize this capacity as similar to EXEC files in DOS 3.3 or to writing macros on mainframe computers. For example, you could "remember" a sequence that includes using GRADE TWO TRANSLATION, GLOBAL REPLACE and PRINTing to Printer 3. Just by referencing the "remember file", the computer will automatically do the multi-step procedure.
We really appreciate all the suggestions we've received for improvements for our new software. A number of BRAILLE-EDIT users have called us on the phone to chat about what they want in the next version of BRAILLE-EDIT. While we appreciate the contact, it is a little difficult to spend a half hour going over these features with even a fraction of our 700-plus customers. In addition, we find it difficult to properly document these over-the-phone suggestions. Please take the time to write down your comments. Thank you for your consideration.
Raised Dot Computing has bought a large quantity of continuous feed braille paper. The paper is punched for three holes, and measures 11 1/2 by 11 once the "perf strips" on the sides have been removed. The paper is 90 pound tag stock.
We sell the paper in boxes of 1,000 sheets for $50 plus UPS ground shipping charge. The shipping charge depends on the zone. Here are some sample rates: Chicago -- $3.80 Detroit -- $5.30 Cincinnati -- 6.85 New York -- $8.40 Miami -- $10.50 Los Angeles -- $12.75 If you would like a quotation, do not hesitate to write or call.