Raised Dot Computing Newsletter: Exploring Microcomputer Applications for the Visually Impaired May 1986 -- Volume 4, Number 40

Published Monthly by Raised Dot Computing, Inc., 408 South Baldwin Street, Madison WI 53703. General phone: 608-257-9595. Technical Hotline: 608-257-8833.

Subscriptions: $18/year Print, $20/year Audio Tape, $30/year Disk. (Kindly add $20/year for postage outside N. America.)

Submissions are always welcome, particularly those on Apple diskette. All are subject to editing for style and clarity. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

Copyright 1986 by Raised Dot Computing, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Table of Contents: the all-uppercase words name the disk chapters; subheadings in each article are separated by two dashes.


Last Chance VersaDeal for Registered BEX Users

Have you contemplated purchasing a tape-based VersaBraille? If so, we have a deal for you. Telesensory Systems, Inc., manufacturers of both VersaBrailles and a host of other sensory aids equipment, has made RDC's customers a generous offer. TSI has authorized RDC to issue coupons worth $1000 towards the regular retail price of the original, tape-based VersaBraille.

This offer expires on June 30, 1986, and is only available to registered BEX users. If you want a coupon, send RDC a written request. Please include your BEX serial number, name, address, and daytime telephone number. We will then send you one non-transferrable coupon.

Rules & Regulations

This offer is only valid in North America. RDC will only issue coupons to registered BEX users who purchase BEX before June 30, 1986. TSI will only redeem the coupons until December 31, 1986. The $1000 coupon is only redeemable towards the purchase of the tape-based VersaBraille at its regular retail price, $6750. This price includes a one-year warranty; additional one-year service agreements are also available for $590 at time of sale, or $655 thereafter. TSI will not provide on-site demonstrations to participants in the coupon program. However, Alan Holst of TSI is happy to answer any questions you may have about the tape-based VersaBraille and its servicing.

Why Is TSI Making This Offer?

TSI recognizes that the tape-based VersaBraille and BEX are a winning combination. TSI believes that BEX users have more computer experience and require less user support. By eliminating the hands-on demonstrations, TSI can dramatically cut its costs.

What's In It for RDC?

We're just delighted that TSI has made this offer. The only benefit we reap is a possible increase in BEX sales; TSI is not remunerating us in any other fashion. We hope that this offer brings useful equipment to some BEX owners.

If you'd like more information about the tape-based VersaBraille itself, please contact Alan Holst at 1-800-227-8418. If you are a registered, North American BEX owner and would like your certificate, please write!

BEX Textfile Bug

We are embarrassed to announce that there is a maddening bug in the 02-04-86 release of BEX. Option R - Read textfiles creates the first BEX page fine, then starts stuttering: all subsequent pages contain text from the first BEX page over and over and over.

We apologize for the problems this bug may have caused you. The fault was ours: we were rushing so fast to get the bug fixes out that we did not test the 02-04-86 disk sufficiently. We have located and fixed this bug, which involved rewriting the routines that read textfiles. While we were at it, we added a feature that should bring joy to many: BEX can now directly read ProDOS textfiles, as well as DOS 3.3 textfiles. Many fine programs create ProDOS textfiles--ProWORDS, AppleWorks, and WORD.TALK, to name a few--and soon you'll be able to access these files without the hassle of using CONVERT first.

Having learned that haste makes waste, we are thoroughly testing this new BEX release, which includes a number of other new features as well as several other bug fixes. If you have registered your BEX ownership, you will be receiving the Update Disk in May at no charge.

BEX Is The Wave of the Future

With the June 30 deadline just two months away, we'd like to urge current BRAILLE-EDIT owners to consider Dual Support or BEX Conversion. There are several reasons why we think these options are a good idea.

Access to New Features

BRAILLE-EDIT is a stable program. While we do plan to release a bug-fixed BRAILLE-EDIT (see more details under Dual Support), we do not plan on adding any features to it. Since BEX is based on BRAILLE-EDIT, people who've grown accustomed to BRAILLE-EDIT's command structure will find learning BEX a snap. All future modules and new features will be based on BEX. Having complained bitterly about "vaporware" in the past, we're hesitant to advertise BEX features that are not yet available. However, we want to alert you to some BEX features that are currently in the testing stage, as they are good examples of the advantages of getting on the BEX bandwagon now.

As mentioned, we're testing a version of BEX that can directly read ProDOS textfiles. This new version also allows mixing grade 1 and grade 2 braille translation in the same document. When testing is complete, this updated BEX will be made available at no cost to all registered BEX owners.

Other BEX features are on the drawing board. We're currently testing a version of BEX that supports the low-cost Sider hard disk system. We're also experimenting with integrating the new SCAT screen review software (for the SlotBuster voice synthesizer) into BEX. We're also hard at work on the BETTE-BEX module, which will include even more braille page formats than existing BETTE.

Better Documentation

We've heard from a number of BEX users that the BEX documentation represents a major improvement over all previous manuals. One said, "It's so easy to read! I just couldn't put it down--stayed up late on the couch reading it." Another said "It's perfect for the computer beginner: compassionate without being condescending."

It's a Bargain

Converting from BRAILLE-EDIT version 2.45 (or later) to BEX costs only $75 until June 30, 1986. After June 30, you'll have to pay the full program price to take advantage of BEX's many improvements over BRAILLE-EDIT. (Converting also gives you the option of obtaining a $1000 VersaDeal coupon.) This deal is definitely going to end on June 30, as RDC loses money on conversions. The BEX binder costs $50 in time, labor, materials, and shipping; the remaining $25 doesn't begin to cover the costs of Upgrades, Technical Support, or program and documentation development time.

Now is the Time To Obtain Dual Support

For people who have a large installed base of BRAILLE-EDIT users, purchasing Dual Support of both BRAILLE-EDIT and BEX makes sense for all the above reasons. We've tracked down and fixed a number of annoying BRAILLE-EDIT bugs, and are carefully testing this new BRAILLE-EDIT disk. (These bugs include: updating all tape-based VB transfers and Input from slot to be compatible with the "3.5 ROM" upgrade for the Apple 2c, and ensuring the Initialize disks on the Starting Menu doesn't crash the second time in a row.) We will send Dual Support-ers this disk when it's ready.

Super Cranmer Graphics Package Update Available

We have recently updated and improved the Super Cranmer Graphics Package in two ways. We've made the menu easier to work with, and we've finally written a manual. The new disk and manual (in print) are available to current SCGP owners for $10. To obtain the SCGP update, send us a check or purchase order for $10, along with your name and address. Our SCGP records are not perfect; if you could supply us with the name of the group or person who originally bought the program, as well as the month and year it was obtained, we would really appreciate it.

Hot Dots: Chatterbox -- Olga Espinola

As an experienced BRAILLE-EDIT user, aware of the excellent quality we've all come to expect from RDC, I was eager to experiment with Hot Dots the day the demo arrived. Immediately, we ran into those pesky critters known in computerland as "bugs". It turned out that the disk was prepared to recognize IBM DOS 2.10 but only in a limited fashion. It would much have preferred to talk to DOS 3.1 (which won't work on my Columbia PC). RDC was kind enough to update the demo at no extra charge and sent me the revised version a couple of weeks later.

Undaunted by the first disappointing experience, I tried again and, voila, success! This demo disk was fine; the global replace feature was great, just what I've been waiting for. The demo works on only 200 characters of text. But since you can use a wide variety of text, you can quickly get an idea of how well the translation process will meet your requirements.

The only thing that disturbed me now was the fact that it talked so much. I figured, "Oh well, it's a demo. When the real program arrives, it will be like BEX. I'll be able to cut out all this extra chatter."

Wrong, wrong. The Hot Dots software tells you every conceivable thing you need to know--all the time. There appears to be no way to cut down on the lengthy messages you get every time you use Global Replace, for example. This is my only criticism of the program so far. It is an excellent product in all other respects.

Lee Kamentsky has been more than generous with his time and patience. When I pointed out a bug in the Global Replace utility, I received an update within a week. That must be a record. Lee is as good as David and Caryn about taking time to explain things. The piping described in the manual sounded like something I would love to have. But the notation was confusing. Lee straightened me out. I now have a batch file (a file that executes commands by itself) that will take a textfile and perform a global replace, then translate it into grade 2 braille, perform another global replace on the translated file and then dump the contents to my VersaBraille. By the way, in my case, the textfile is really the source code for the programs I write on the Honeywell minicomputer. Dots just thinks it's a textfile but it's really a program. It's wonderful to be able to read my coding in grade 2 braille as well as computer braille.

Hot Dots: you've saved me many frustrating hours. I love Global Replace. But please shut up.

Anyone wishing information on the piping procedure described herein, or any other information about Hot Dots, VersaBraille and IBM interfacing, please contact me or leave your message on my answering machine.

P.S. I have the manual for PC-TALK III mentioned by Al Gayzagian in last month's issue. PC-TALK III is fairly sophisticated but can be very useful in a wide range of applications. We almost used it to emulate the Honeywell minicomputers until we found that the PC7300 Terminal Emulator worked better in my particular application. The documentation is on VB cassette or Apple disk only.

Miss Olga Espinola

763 Grafton St., Apt. 2

Worcester, MA 01604


[Editor's Note: The demo disk is available from RDC for $30, creditable towards the $300 purchase price.]

New Software Announcements

The RDC Newsletter's mailbox is just bulging with announcements of new products. We're happy to bring the following two products to your attention, since the developers are one-person operations who don't have massive advertising budgets. Please be aware, however, that we haven't tested the following two products. We're very interested in printing reviews and user comments about these programs and other software "out there."

The "Ultimate File Cabinet"

The "Ultimate File Cabinet" is a talking data base manager that runs under ProDOS on a 128K Apple 2e equipped with an Echo synthesizer. It's the third in a series of programs by Peter Scialli, whose "Ultimate Banker" was reviewed in RDC Newsletter #37, February 1986.

"Ultimate File Cabinet" features six (renameable) fields; file header scanning; multi-criteria record searching; and the use of partial search strings in up to four fields. In printing, you have the ability to print any file or files with or without the field labels. You can output onto letters, envelopes, or address labels.

The "Ultimate File Cabinet" has gone through several pre-market versions and is now ready for shipment. The "Ultimate File Cabinet" costs $40 postpaid. This includes the program disk, disk-based instructions for immediate use without sighted help, and a printed instructions sheet. You may call the author's magic phone machine and leave a message; he'll return your call.

Mr. Peter Scialli

17 Zabriskie Street

Hackensack NJ 07601


Two Self-Help Courses on Apple Computer Disks!

Fitness Talk, by Johnette Weiss, is a course of study for those of you that are interested in good health and good looks. The program includes articles dealing with exercise, dieting, nutrition, and discussion of favorite foods. The course explains how much you should weigh and how many calories you should eat. The disk also includes a program to read the text files as well as an option to print the articles on paper. Learn all about how many calories are in a Big Mac and a vanilla shake! How many pieces of pizza could you eat and still stay within your daily calorie count? If you want to know, order Fitness Talk today!

Self-Improvement is a course of study available on a computer disk. This disk will include articles about setting goals, relating to other people, personal motivation, a positive attitude, and relaxation and assertiveness training. As you progress with your study, activities are presented which are designed to help you to feel good about yourself. Self-Improvement provides an excellent opportunity for the improvement of self-esteem not only for the individual but also for high school and college students, rehabilitation clients, and professionals.

Self-Improvement will include a program to read the text files on the disk with speech output as well as an option to print the articles on paper. These articles are a collection of original papers by Johnette Weiss which were developed over a period of years of experience as a rehabilitation teacher of the adult blind and as a group leader.

Fitness Talk and Self-Improvement each cost $15. To order either course on Apple DOS 3.3 disks, make payment in U. S. funds drawn on a U. S. Bank. For overseas orders, add $5.00 for airmail shipping. Absolutely no invoicing will be accepted! Make your checks payable to Jeff Weiss and mail to:

Apple Talk

3015 South Tyler Street

Little Rock, AR 72204

STAT TALK: A Talking Statistical Package for the Apple and How It Grew -- Dennis G. Shulman, Ph.D.

When I bought my Apple 2e and Echo synthesizer in May of 1984, I had many plans for how the computer was going to make my professional life easier. To accomplish this, I needed three kinds of software: Word processing, a data base manager, and a program to do statistical analyses. I needed all these capabilities since I'm a psychologist, teaching at the university level, doing research, and maintaining a private practice.

I was pleased to find Raised Dot Computing and its excellent word processing program, BRAILLE-EDIT. I also found a number of data base managers that would talk. From these options, I chose to purchase INFO from Computer Aids. Yet, although I searched for a full year, I could not find a statistical software package that was sophisticated enough for my needs on which I could install TEXTALKER.

If a program was sophisticated enough to do the analysis I needed, then it was so copy-protected that it was impossible to modify it for speech. Even with special manipulation by the manufacturer, I was told, most of these would be inappropriate because of their graphic orientation. In desperation, I turned to public domain software available. As one would expect of programs so inexpensive, the quality was very spotty. Some of the analyses included in these disks were inaccurate, some programs did not work and most of all, no public domain software included options for saving data on disk, a feature any professional must have. I despaired. It was back to my pre-computer ways--I had to depend on sighted readers to enter data and interpret the masses of print-outs from the University computer center.

Things changed when I discovered a program that had incredibly powerful statistical capabilities, worked on the Apple, and was only minimally copy protected. Upon further investigation, I learned that this piece of software was developed by a company which subsequently had gone out of business (probably because this excellent program was not copy-protected adequately). In consultation with the original programmers and the owner of the former company, I bought the rights to this program, adapted it to serve blind users better, and now am distributing it under the name of STAT TALK.

STAT TALK Features

This program is designed for anyone who uses statistics: students and professionals in business, the social sciences, the natural sciences, etc. It was designed to work with any of the Apple II family of computers in conjunction with the Echo voice synthesizer. Plans are being made for an IBM-PC version as well--but this is far off at this point.

The STAT TALK package contains one double-sided copy-protected program disk and the complete documentation in four formats: in print; on cassette tape; as both an RDC data-format chapter and as a DOS 3.3 textfile on side 2 of the program disk.

The program disk has been set up to boot talking. It is preconfigured by the manufacturer for your particular system parameters, that is: number of disk drives in your system, the kind of printer card you have installed, in which slot this card is installed, etc.

One feature I found especially useful involves the output to screen. Although the STAT TALK program and documentation was designed for the visually impaired user, it's also fully usable by screen alone, making it possible for sighted research assistants and colleagues to work with the blind user on a given project.


STAT TALK deals with data that is entered in table form. As an example, you have four pieces of information about each one of your subjects: the subject number, I.Q. score, grade point average in high school and grade point average in college. Each subject, then, uses one row; because there are four variables, there are four columns. Now, you have ten subjects, so your table has ten rows (one for each subject) and four columns (one for each variable). That is your data table. STAT TALK can handle up to 272 rows and 57 columns.

While entering data, the program frequently prompts you, for example, with "Row 2, Column 3"; this means neither blind nor sighted users become confused about where they are or what they've already entered. Once data is entered from the keyboard using these prompts, you have the option of naming your columns and/or saving your data to disk.

Once data is entered, you can do many different things with it--more possibilities than can be outlined in this short article. The kinds of manipulations and statistical tests available are the kind students and professionals in any area using statistics would be familiar with. They include mean, standard deviation, variance, range and other basic statistics, "t" tests, correlations, chi square tests, analysis of variance, multiple regression, nonparametric statistics, and more.

In order to use STAT TALK, there should be some elementary familiarity with statistics so that the user knows which of the tests is appropriate. However, once the data is entered, calculations are performed by STAT TALK, initiated by simple four-letter commands detailed in the documentation.

Formatting Output

Within STAT TALK, there are two print options. You can type, "PRON" and send anything from that point on to your ink print printer until you type, "PROF." Or, you can print in part or whole, your data table by typing another four letter command.

As I said, the data table can be saved on disk. These tables are saved as standard Apple textfiles which gives you many more options for printing as well. The STAT TALK documentation discusses how you can easily convert the data table file into a RDC data-format chapter so that it can be printed to braille, large type, VersaBraille, or whatever your word processing system is capable of. Other word processors can work directly with Apple textfiles, or supply utilities to change Apple textfiles into their unique file format. Further technical support is available by writing to STAT TALK Computer Products or by telephoning me.

Ordering Information

The STAT TALK software with full documentation (print and cassette tape) costs $225. We will sell the documentation alone for $40 so that possible purchasers of the software can review it to assess their need for it. If you later decide to buy the software, the configured disk costs $195. If you need to use STAT TALK on two different types of Apple systems, the second configured disk can be purchased for $50. Payment by personal check or money order in U.S. funds must accompany your order. No purchase orders or charge cards accepted.

To properly configure the disk, please supply the following information with your order:

Apple computer model

Echo synthesizer model

Printer interface card and slot number

Number of disk drives

Send orders in print, braille, cassette or Apple textfile on disk to:

STAT TALK Computer Products

285 Hardenburgh Avenue

Demarest, NJ 07627


BANA Approves Computer Braille Code for Field Testing -- David Holladay

Why a new braille code?

For years, there has been confusion and controversy about the best way to transcribe computer-related manuals and textbooks into braille. In 1972, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) adopted the "Provisional Braille Code for Computer Notation." The 1972 code instructed a transcriber to use a slightly modified Nemeth code to represent program listings. The code concentrated on how to transcribe flowcharts, paper tape, and punch cards. These materials are now obsolete in the computer world.

The basic problem was that a blind programmer using a braille device would have to work with a program listing in a different braille code than that found in transcribed books. All American braille devices (braille printers and paperless braillers) use the same system of "computer braille." The "computer braille" system assigns a different printable ASCII character to each braille cell. For example a question mark in print comes out as a "th" sign in braille. If a brailler prints a "th" sign, the braille reader knows that the computer connected to the brailler sent a question mark. This "one-to-one" correspondence between braille and print means that it's easy for a braille reader to know exactly what the equivalent print copy looks like. It is much more difficult to know what the equivalent print copy looks like if a program is transcribed with the 1972 code.

Unfortunately, it is not practical to transcibe books in the "computer braille" system, due to its many limitations. To name just two: there's no way to show underlining or the distinction between upper and lower case.

BANA Forms a Committee

BANA established a committee in 1985 to standardize a new code for computer-related materials. The committee was headed by Tim Cranmer, the inventor of the Cranmer Brailler and currently heading the NFB Office of Research and Development. Priscilla Harris (skilled transcriber of literary braille), Donna Pastore (skilled Nemeth Code proofreader), Dr. Sandra Ruconich (expert on technology for the blind), and Dr. Emerson Foulke (perennial researcher in sensory aids, current chairman for the National Association to Promote the use of Braille) served on this high-powered committee.

The committee has issued the "Computer Braille Code." This new Code has been approved by the BANA board for field testing. Copies of the Code have been sent to about 20 transcribers and to the braille publishing houses. Special attention is being focused on using the Code in educational settings.

Author's Note: for the purpose of this article, I use the abbreviation CBC (for Computer Braille Code) to refer to the new standard that BANA has approved for testing. I use "computer braille" system to mean the ASCII encoding system for communicating with American braille devices.

Outlines of the New Code

The CBC used the "computer braille" system as a starting point. It was necessary to "sacrifice" one symbol to be used as a prefix to indicate situations that could not be represented with the "computer braille" system. The underbar (dots 4-5-6) is set aside as that special prefix. For example, a letter preceded by dots 4-5-6 represents a single uppercase letter. Since we can't print braille dots in our Newsletter, I'll show these examples using the "computer braille" system.

As those who are familiar with the "computer braille" system will see, the CBC can unambiguously represent all 96 printable characters of the ASCII system (the characters commonly found on a computer keyboard). The character pairs that can get confused (such as lower/upper case letters, and "[" and "{") are distinguished by the presence or absence of the dots 4-5-6 prefix.

There is no way to represent control characters (non-printing character) in the Code, but then there is no standard way to represent control characters in print, either. Any text that describes control characters establishes some method of representing them (such as writing "<CR>" or "X-on"). A transcriber would just transcribe those symbols or words.

The emphasis indicator is used without spaces. For example, f+g is represented as f_*+_/g. The caps lock indicator is also used without adding spaces. The "caps lock" is in effect until the "caps release" or a significant space. For example, the three words: FILES named PERMex are transcribed as: _>files named _>perm_<ex.

Some Ruminations

In a single newsletter article, it's impossible to give anything but a very brief overview of the highlights of the new Computer Braille Code. It is our intention to bring this new code to the attention of our readers, and to explore the issues behind it.

For the braille reader, it simplifies the task of reading computer-related text. There are very few symbols to learn. Anyone who has used a braille-oriented computer terminal (VersaBraille, Cranmer Brailler, etc.) is familiar with the root system. For a braille transcriber, the new code simplifies the task of transcribing computer-related text, since the transcriber need not understand the text being transcribed. This is a property shared with Nemeth code; transcription is based on the appearance of the print symbols, not on their meaning.

At Raised Dot Computing, we have done some experiments in automating CBC transcription. These experiments show there would be no major problems in modifying our BETTE software to conform to the Code. This is very exciting because computer-related texts are often available on machine-readable form.

The new code does have some disadvantages. It can easily generate awkward and lengthy transcriptions for items that are short in print. It is entirely based on using the ASCII characters. It would be difficult to transcribe a book that used characters not found in the ASCII set. Many computer science books make heavy use of both program listings and mathematical notation, which would mean frequent shifts in braille codes. Finally, it adds another code that a technically oriented blind reader must be familiar with. However, it is clear that closing the gap between the braille found in books and the braille found on electronic braille devices is a welcome development. If you're interested in finding out more about the Computer Braille Code, both braille and inkprint copies of the Code are available at no cost from:

Dr. Tim Cranmer

NFB Office of Research and Development

523 Pawnee Trail

Frankfort KY 40601


From an AppleWorks Word Processing File to Braille with BEX -- Jesse Kaysen


AppleWorks is the single most popular program for the Apple 2 family of computers. AppleWorks integrates database, word processing, and spreadsheet functions into one program that's accessible to a true computer beginner. Since it's completely menu-driven, it's not very suitable for use with voice output. But since it's so popular, many sighted people have access to it. This includes the sighted administrative staff at RDC: we use AppleWorks' database to maintain our Newsletter subscriptions, customer lists, and accounts receivable reports. (As an aside, it's probably no coincidence that we have computerized very few of our administrative functions. Almost all our office systems are based on manual procedures, and so far, we like it a lot!)

I've experimented with various ways of getting data out of AppleWorks and into braille. I tried printing directly to our Thiel in computer braille; unfortunately, AppleWorks' printer drivers were just not designed to format data for braillers. I then started experimenting with file transfer via disk. At the beginning, I had to use the ProDOS Users' Disk to convert the ProDOS textfiles that AppleWorks' creates into DOS 3.3 textfiles that BRAILLE-EDIT can handle. (More details on that process are available in my article, Transferring Files between AppleWorks and BRAILLE-EDIT, RDC Newsletter Vol. 3, No. 25/26, March 1985.)

Partly due to my massive frustration with the Users Disk, we've added a tremendously handy feature to BEX. BEX can read both ProDOS and DOS 3.3 textfiles. Going from AppleWorks to BEX is very fast: I write the textfile in AppleWorks, then read the textfile directly into a BEX chapter. As mentioned in the lead article of this month's Newsletter, this BEX feature is not yet available to the general public. It's undergoing thorough testing, and will be available shortly. It will be sent at no charge to registered BEX owners as part of the next Update Disk. You'll be able to use this feature at all BEX Levels, but you must have two disk drives.

This month, I'll discuss the straightforward procedure of moving a word processor file into BEX. Next month, I'll discuss the file transfer from an AppleWorks database file, which is a little more involved. It took some trial and error to develop the process described here; it's important to keep in mind that, as with any data transfer, establishing the routine is the challenging and time-consuming part. Now that I know exactly what to do, it's almost effortless.

AppleWorks File Storage Options

AppleWorks allows you to store text on disk in three ways. Most often, it's stored in AppleWorks' unique binary file format. When you use AppleWorks to obtain a list of these files on disk, they are labeled "Word Processor", "Database", or "Spreadsheet". When you do a ProDOS CAT or CATALOG, the three-letter file types for these files are AWP, ADB, or ASP respectively. BEX can't directly read these files. However, whenever you instruct AppleWorks to print by pressing Open-Apple-P, AppleWorks gives you an option "Save the File as A Textfile (ASCII) on Disk." Inside AppleWorks, these files are labeled "Other"; outside AppleWorks, the label is TXT.

When you save a textfile this way, AppleWorks doesn't try to format the information at all. The only <CR>s or spaces in the textfile are those that appear in the original AppleWorks file. Depending on how the data was entered, there will be some number of <CR>s at the end of each paragraph. There will not be <CR>s at the end of each line. There will be no indication of centering, underlining, page numbering, page headers or footers, or any other print option. (The third way of storing files is to define one of your printers as printing to disk. This procedure is better for a Database file--more details next month.)

It's possible to include some format information in the Textfile if you're willing to do some manual fiddling. AppleWorks doesn't recognize BEX's "$$" commands as anything special, so you can enter them directly in your AppleWorks file. This is particularly easy for centered material. Position your cursor around 20 characters in on the line, and use the down and up arrows to scroll through your file. At the first centered headline, enter "$$c", then copy it to the clipboard. At the next centered headline, press open-Apple-C followed by F, and you move the "$$c" right in place.

If you're consistent about paragraph format, it makes it easier to place ($p) indicators in the BEX chapter later with Replace characters. If the AppleWorks paragraphs always end with two <CR>s, then you can globally Replace every appearance of "<CR> <CR>" with "space dollar-sign lowercase P space". In my experience, AppleWorks occasionally throws in a random <CR> at the end of a line in the middle of a paragraph. If the end of the AppleWorks paragraph is signalled by just one <CR>, then there's no way for Replace characters to distinguish genuine paragraph ends from these random <CR>s.

Doing It

Boot AppleWorks, and add the Word Processor file to the Desktop. Manually add any format information that you wish to appear in the textfile, like centering commands. Press open-Apple-P to print, and then choose whether to print the entire document or a portion. Next, you're presented with the list of destinations. Choose the last option, "Save as a Textfile (ASCII) on disk."

Here comes the tricky part: in the lower left hand corner, AppleWorks prompts: Pathname? You must type in the complete ProDOS pathname: first a slash, then the volume name for your floppy disk, then another slash, then the name of the textfile you're creating. For example, your floppy disk volume name is "/memos." The Word Processor file is named "Vanderbilt." You may save the textfile with the same name if you'd like to: in that case, you'd enter "/memos/vanderbilt". (To make life easier, I always name ProDOS textfiles without spaces and without periods, thereby satisfying the naming rules for both ProDOS and BEX. It doesn't matter whether the names are upper- or lowercase, as BEX always interprets the file names as uppercase.)

This sounds simple enough, but the kind of error messages I encountered when trying this procedure were not mentioned in the AppleWorks manual. This is what I inferred: When you save a textfile on disk, AppleWorks does not automatically write to "the standard location for your data disk." Instead, the textfile is written to the "current ProDOS volume"--which is usually the AppleWorks program disk. (The data disk "standard location" appears in the upper left hand corner when you're at AppleWorks' Main Menu. If it's a floppy, it reads "Disk: Drive 1" or "Disk: Drive 2." If it's not a floppy, then it reads "Path: /hard1" or whatever.)

If I typed just a file name, with no slash at the beginning, AppleWorks would try to write the textfile on the AppleWorks program disk. There's never enough room on the AppleWorks program disk, so I got the message: "Unable to continue writing this file."

On the other hand, when I typed just: "/vanderbilt" then AppleWorks would look for the directory with that name. AppleWorks can't find that directory, so it said: "Unable to begin this file."

The moral is: always note the volume name of a floppy on the label! When you enter the complete ProDOS pathname, everything goes fine. It may take some time to save your file as a textfile: a sample 14K document required 75 seconds to save.

Now, pop the ProDOS disk in drive 2 and boot BEX. Go to BEX's Second menu and choose option R - Read textfile to chapter. BEX doesn't recognize the floppy's volume name; if you want to specify the textfile by name, enter: "VANDERBILT". It's easier to just enter 2 <CR> and let BEX present you with a numbered list.

Since BEX can't write DOS 3.3 textfiles on a disk that's formatted for ProDOS, you must write the BEX chapters on drive 1, providing a different name. BEX reads the ProDOS textfiles into chapters. (And boy, is it fast! The same sample file took only 40 seconds for BEX to read into a chapter.)

Place the DOS 3.3 disk in drive 2, Jump back to the Main menu, and take a look at the chapter. You need to check out how the paragraphs are formatted so you can write a transformation chapter to insert BEX's paragraph ($p) indicators. format commands. If the data entry in AppleWorks has been consistent, then the transformation task is easier. With my sample file, every paragraph started with 2 <CR>s and five spaces. The first rule changes "<CR><CR>" to "$p"; the second rule changes any single <CR> to space. There are still the five spaces at the start of a paragraph to deal with, and for proper braille format, you don't want two spaces after a sentence, so the last transformation rule changes "space space" to space". The transformation rules must be in that order to work correctly, because Replace characters executes the rules in order. After the first rule is performed, the start of the paragraph becomes space, dollar sign, lowercase P, then six spaces. After the third rule, the six spaces become three spaces, then two spaces, then one space. That's why Replace characters makes those wonderful rising tones. You can use the same name for the original chapter and the target chapter, because you have no further need for the original. Now the chapter is ready for braille translation.

This procedure also works with other software that creates ProDOS textfiles, like ProWORDS and AppleWriter 2.0. Similar to BEX and BRAILLE-EDIT, these two programs use embedded format commands, but of course the commands themselves are different. An afternoon spent comparing reference cards will help you write transformation rules to translate format commands between software. Here's a ProWORDS sample to get you started: you'd change "!sp0" to "$$l1"; "!pp5" to "$$i5"; "!np" to "$$vn". Some commands can't be automatically fixed with Replace characters because the syntax is different.


NBP Publishes Third Computer Book

We recently received a witty, informative, and comprehensive book from that reliable source of the witty and informative, National Braille Press. Add-Ons: The Ultimate Guide to Peripherals for the Blind Computer User, lives up to its title. Eighteen blind users provide detailed and honest reviews of a wide range of devices and software. Topics covered include: optical scanners, modems, braille printers and translators, inkprint printers, speech synthesizers, paperless braille devices, and a comprehensive listing of audio tape and braille materials related to computer use. An appendix provides the names and addresses of 87 key players in the ever-changing field of computer applications for the blind.

Add-Ons is available in print, braille, and audio cassette. Print copies costs $19.95, including postage. Braille and cassette editions cost $16.95 when shipped Free Matter for the Blind. If you'd prefer braille or cassette shipped UPS, add $3. Also available from National Braille Press are the First and Second Beginner's Guide to Personal Computers for the Blind & Visually Impaired. The First Beginner's Guide was published in November 1983--it costs $6 in all media. The Second Beginner's Guide was published in October 1984--$14.95 print (includes postage); $12.95 in braille or cassette shipped Free Matter (add $3 for UPS shipping). All orders to NBP must be PREPAID; they will not invoice. Contact:

National Braille Press, Inc.

88 St. Stephen Street

Boston MA 02115


Spring '86 Sensus Spotlights Educational Software

Sensus, the quarterly magazine which serves as a consumers' guide to technology for blind and partially sighted persons, is planning to cover education software for blind and partially sighted children in its Spring issue. Contents will include reviews of software and articles focusing on issues related to making computers accessible to visually impaired children. The magazine will be ready for delivery on April 23, 1986 at a cost of $6. (Quantities of 50 or more costs $4 each, plus postage.)

A one-year subscription to Sensus is available for subscribing to the monthly newsletter on technology for blind and partially sighted persons, Technology Update. Both publications are available in print and audio cassette: subscription rates are $30 for blind and partially sighted individuals, $37 for other individuals, and $47 for organizations. Contact:


Sensory Aids Foundations

399 Sherman Ave., Suite 12

Palo Alto CA 94306

Letters to the Editor

Daveed Mandell's article in Volume 4, Number 38 continues to generate interesting responses. We were especially impressed by the civic urges it stirred in the sixth grade class at the Tennessee School for the Blind. This letter demonstrates that 12-year-olds, too, have something important to contribute:

Sixth-Graders Speak Out

I am a sixth grader at the Tennessee School for the Blind. I am speaking on behalf of my classmates. We all read braille.

We read what Mr. Daveed Mandell had to say in the March issue of your Newsletter. We agreed with most things he said, but there were some things we didn't agree with. We thought that he should have considered schools and students in the committee that he was suggesting. We use computers a lot and we like them. We thought that the task force should have some blind school's and student's ideas in it too. Someday we're going to be private consumers.

We have read what Dr. Jacqueline Shahzadi had been doing in California to help blind people buy computers with special loans. We have written to her to find out more about her idea. Last fall we wrote to some of our senators and representatives about getting loans for our parents to buy computers. What we have heard so far is not very encouraging. Enclosed is a copy of a letter one of my classmates received from Jim Sasser. [Editor's note: The writer attached copies of letters from two Tennessee Senators, Mr. Sasser and Mr. Gore. Both expressed appreciation for the communications from the students at TSB, but doubt that any Federal funds would be made available for computer purchases.]

All of us have just finished using BRAILLE-EDIT and BEX a lot. We had to write a long term paper, and the computer was a real help. We found that we could work better to make corrections if we put each paragraph on another page. Thanks for creating the BRAILLE-EDIT. It helped me get an A on my paper.

Sincerely, Jeremy Brown.

The Pirates Got What They Deserved

[Editor's Note: The author of this letter requested anonymity to prevent unwarranted reprisals.]

In the February RDC NEWSLETTER there was an article about the copy protection feature in BEX. It is most unfortunate that those of us who are honest have to put up with theft. I was riding on the bus the other day and was outraged by a conversation I had with the person riding next to me. He mentioned that he had a computer so I asked him what programs he had. He said that he was using BRAILLE-EDIT. When I said that the support from Raised Dot is terrific he said, "I didn't git it from them it costs too much money". When I asked where he got it he said, "there plenty of copies around". There seemed to be no concern that he and his "provider" had carried out an act of theft. This kind of attitude caused Raised Dot to make the decision to make copy protection a part of the BEX program. If people had not abused the privilege, copy protection would not have occurred. To you pirates out there I make this remark: "you violated a sacred trust with Raised Dot Computing and the honest customers. Don't complain about copy protection. You got what you deserved".

A Long Time BRAILLE-EDIT User in Texas