Raised Dot Computing Newsletter: Exploring Microcomputer Applications for the Visually Impaired -- ISSN 0890-0019. July-August 1989 -- Volume 7, Numbers 78 & 79.

Published Every Other Month by Raised Dot Computing, Inc., 408 South Baldwin Street, Madison, Wisconsin USA 53703. Telephone: 608-257-9595.

Subscriptions: $18/year Print, $20/year Audio Tape, $30/year Apple II BEX data disk. (Kindly add $20/year for postage outside N. America.) Single issues are $4.

Submissions are always welcome, especially on diskette. All are subject to editing for style and clarity. All opinions expressed are those of the author. Editors: Jesse Kaysen & Phyllis Herrington.

Entire contents copyright 1989 by Raised Dot Computing, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in any medium--print, braille, audio, or electronic--without prior written permission from RDC Inc.

Table of Contents: the all-uppercase words name the disk chapters; the words after the equals sign are the actual article titles.

READ ME FIRST = How To Read the RDC Newsletter on Disk.

CONTENTS = (This Chapter) print page 1.

MATHEMATIX THANK U = MathematiX Now Shipping (print page 2).

FUNDRAISING DIGNITY = A Dignified Approach to Fundraising by Nevin Olson (print pages 2-4).

BEX & BASIC PROGRAM = Using BEX for BASIC Programming by Kevin Kirby & Using Textfiles and BEX Chapters for BASIC Programs by David Holladay (print pages 4-6).

MFH & MUSICWRITE = MFH's MusicWrite Project: Making Music Composition Accessible to the Visually Impaired by David Goldstein (print pages 6-11).

BASIC BRAILLE KEYBOARD = Using BEX's Braille Keyboard Mode by Phyllis Herrington (print pages 11-12).

BRAILLE ENTRY ON 2GS = Braille Data Entry Now Possible on Apple IIgs by David Holladay (print pages 12-14).

NEMETH ENTRY IN TBX = Including Nemeth Code in TranscriBEX Chapters by Jesse Kaysen (print pages 14-16).

BEX SPATIAL ARITHMETIC = Using BEX to Format Large Print and Braille Spatial Arithmetic by Caryn Navy & David Holladay (print pages 17-20).

BULLETIN BOARD = Bulletin Board, with eight items. "For Sale" ads: Kurzweil Personal Reader, KRM Series 400, Apple IIc & BEX system, and VersaPoint Embosser. Announcements: Low-cost Hardcopy Braille from BEX Chapters; Digital Equipment Continues DECtalk Subsidies; Shakespeare's Plays on Diskette; ABLEDATA Resource for Disability-related Consumer Products (print pages 20-22).

CONFERENCES = Conferences of Note: Closing the Gap Oct 89 & AIDS and Vision Loss Jan 90 (print pages 22-23).

ABOUT AUTHORS = About the Authors (print page 23).

FACTS ON FILE = The RDC Full Cell & Trademarks (print page 24).

NEMETH BRL SAMPLE = Sample braille data discussed in "Including Nemeth in TranscriBEX Chapters" article.

SPATIAL L P SAMPLE = Sample large print data discussed in "Spatial Arithmetic" article.

SPATIAL BRL SAMPLE = Sample braille data discussed in "Spatial Arithmetic" article.

MathematiX Now Shipping

The 19th of July was a red-letter day in Raised Dot history: we shipped out the first complete MathematiX programs to our testers. As announced last issue, when you add MathematiX to BEX, you can prepare inkprint documents that include math and science notation. MathematiX also lets you Verbalize your Nemeth braille chapters, providing an interactive environment to strengthen math notation skills. We're confident that MathematiX is the right tool for any Nemeth user wanting to prepare inkprint materials, thanks to the hard work and useful suggestions of the following folks:

Roberta Becker

Mark Dubnick

Carol Gear

Stephen Murgaski

Lori Scharff

Yohei Yagi

Although they make us blush, we're not too shy to repeat some of the comments we received. Stephen Murgaski used his VersaBraille and MathematiX to prepare a Grade 7 algebra test. As reported by his teacher Carol Gear, "This meant that he didn't have to take his test home, and get a braille copy from his embosser, and then return it to me the next day to interline [write in inkprint versions of the Nemeth]. It also meant that the teacher was able to mark his test along with the rest of the class. It was super--everything that we could have wanted in a print copy came out."

Yohei Yagi is eager to use MathematiX in his graduate work as an astrophysicist; he told us "I believe MathematiX will be the most powerful printing tool for braille users." Biochemist and computer programmer Mark Dubnick was particularly pleased by the Verbalize feature: "When I first learned of this feature, I thought of it as a sort of useful extra. By the end of [round 1] testing, I thought of it as a very useful tool, but kind of clumsy. Now, I think of it as an absolute necessity, and a pretty slick one at that! How did I ever live without it?"

Ordering MathematiX

The ordering instructions in last issue's announcement were a little confusing. Here's the real lowdown: Any registered BEX owner can purchase MathematiX for $225 U.S. You get the MathematiX Manual in regular print and hardcopy braille, the MathematiX Menu Disk to use with your BEX software, and the MathematiX Samples Disk chock full of examples. MathematiX works with either BEX 2.2 or 3.0. (If your BEX is currently version 2.1, we also send you the BEX 2.2 Update Disk at no charge.) To order MathematiX, please supply us with the following in print or braille: your BEX serial number; your name; street address (we can't ship to a P.O. box); city; state or province; zip or postal code; and a check, money order, or purchase order for $225 U.S. We are happy to charge your purchase to your MasterCard or VISA--call us at 608-257-9595.

A Dignified Approach to Fundraising -- Nevin Olson

I've been enjoying Steve Mendelsohn's "Paying for the Stuff" series in Technology Update (the bi-monthly publication of Sensory Aids Foundation). Steve's articles set me thinking about the many times I've solicited funds--a task that has its humbling elements! But each time I have come away with some insights on fundraising, and I wanted to share these tips with you. I hope they can be useful to a parent seeking funds or services to assist their child, a teacher trying to start or expand a novel project, or an individual who needs sensory aids equipment to enhance their employment skills.

-- Getting in the right frame of mind: There are some powerfully negative images associated with fundraising: the blind beggar with a cup, or the patronizing do-gooder "taking care of those poor blind people." I urge you to think about fund-raising as the business that it is. Consider what's involved when Donald Trump goes to the bank and asks for $100 billion--the bank has the money and Don has the need. The charters of all non-profit organizations state their charitable, educational, or religious mission. When you ask them to fund your project, you are offering the organization the opportunity to succeed at its stated mission. As a fundraiser, accord yourself the respect due to any party in a business transaction.

-- Identify likely sources of funding: Finding who has the money you're seeking is one of the easiest parts. Service organizations are located in just about every city and town, and most are on the lookout for projects to fund. Begin with the telephone book, checking under "service," "fraternal," and "labor organizations" to mention a few. Don't limit yourself to just one funder--there are even advantages to spreading your requests among several donors. Steve Mendelsohn's book is packed with suggestions--ordering details at the end of this article.

-- Getting your request together: simple, detailed, and honest: Before you talk to anyone about your needs, you have to spend some time preparing yourself. Consider your audience when making your presentation: you may have to provide some background to people who've never heard of sensory aids technology. But they probably aren't interested in bits and baud rates. Keep it as simple and short as possible: three to five minutes for an oral presentation; one or two single-spaced pages for a print request. You can always offer to provide more technical details at the end; this gives an option to the curious tech-heads in the audience without overwhelming the majority.

At a minimum, your presentation should include:

-- What you are going to do

-- What equipment and resources you need to do it

-- What you want from them in terms of money and other considerations

-- What benefits they can expect from the project

-- Budgeting hints: To ascertain your needs, you really must prepare a detailed budget, although you don't want to bore your audience with a penny-by-penny breakdown in the initial presentation. Instead, include the exact total amount, and have the details available for the fiscal folks to review after your presentation is done. When figuring costs, remember that on-going projects have on-going expenses. In addition to startup costs, consider service contracts, periodic maintenance, paper, disks, software upgrades, and evaluating the project's results.

-- Be direct, positive, affirmative and realistic: You want money, not pity. Requests are best received when they are presented positively and optimistically. "If I get this money I can buy a computer and have the opportunity to improve my employment skills" is better than "Because I'm blind I don't have a job." "My daughter's planning to go to college, and this equipment will provide her with competitive learning opportunities" gives the audience evidence of previous accomplishment and realistic goals. Don't get carried away and overstate your case. "If you buy new gizmos for these students they will all get A's in advanced Physics" is a very hard promise to keep.

Harness your own enthusiasm and commitment to the project--it's contagious. Desperation and depression are also contagious, and you want to leave your audience in a positive frame of mind. Here's where seeking funds from multiple donors can work to your advantage: it demonstrates your willingness to see your project through to completion. When you are soliciting more than one group, or already have some funds in hand, tell your audience. If you omit mention, you open yourself up to charges of "double-dealing" later on.

-- The "informational interview" strategy: This technique can be effective when finding jobs, recruiting technical assistance, and raising money--it's detailed in Richard Bowles' What Color is Your Parachute. You work up your proposal and you contact a likely individual or group, but you don't ask them directly for money. Instead you explain that you are preparing a proposal to present to a funding group and you would like them to review it and tell you what they think. After they have completed their review, ask them to give you feedback. How did they like it? Do they see any problems? Do they know anyone who might be interested in the proposal? If they were to consider it for funding, how would it have to be changed? Would they consider it for funding? At the least, you have gotten a good review of your proposal. Usually, you can get some good direction as to where you should present your proposal, maybe even an introduction. And if they are interested in considering your proposal your chances are much better because your reviewer has helped you prepare it.

-- Involving the donor in the search for funds: After your presentation, always offer to answer questions. Identify someone who will get back to you about their deliberations, and maintain contact. Write a thank-you letter immediately after your presentation, asking them when they'll know their answer and soliciting feedback on your proposal. If you haven't heard by that date, get back in touch. Don't whine or nag, simply say "I'm just touching base with you on my funding request. Have you had a chance to make a decision yet?" If they don't give you the money, it's still an excellent opportunity to improve your fundraising skills. Find out why: did they understand the project completely? was the fiscal information sufficient? were there any "red flag" items that made them uncomfortable? Even when one group doesn't have sufficient resources, they may be able to point the way to someone else who does.

If you do get your request, you still gain two valuable results from donor feedback. First, by asking your benefactors why they decided to grant your request you get a sense of their expectations for your success. If things are way off-target, it's best to get it straight now. Second, you build a rapport with the group. You never know when you find yourself in a position to be a fundraiser for a particular project. Keeping in touch with your benefactors will give them a positive link to you and projects like yours.

-- "Why can't you just make it easier?": Finally, don't expect small sensory aids companies to give you steep discounts or donations. The hard fact is that almost every one of our customers is in your position: underfunded. I know Raised Dot's products are priced as reasonably as possible while still keeping us afloat, and I'm sure that other companies have the same goal.

I hope these tips will be useful. For more specific information on locating donors and grappling with the government side of funding, I recommend Steve Mendelsohn's book: Financing Adaptive Technology: A Guide to Sources and Strategies for Blind and Visually Impaired Users. It's available in print, braille, 4-track audio, and Apple II disk for $20 U.S. from:

Smiling Interface

P.O. Box 2792

Church St. Station

New York, NY 10008-2792

Telephone: 212-222-0312

Using BEX Auto Chapters to Write BASIC Programs -- Kevin Kirby

Not many programmers out there love the editing capabilities of the Apple in BASIC, because they are pretty rudimentary. How many of you would like all the features of an advanced word processing program at your finger tips when you're creating at the keyboard? Never fear, BEX is here! I'm an average high-school BEX user. I use the program for anything I can think of, from school papers to letters in Portuguese which I send to my Brazilian friends. BEX never fails; one can never run out of ideas for BEX. Let me tell you how you can use it as a BASIC programming companion.

Begin by writing your BASIC program as you normally would, except do it in BEX's Editor. The addition of a few characters makes it an auto chapter, which types the new program for you. While "auto chapter" might sound complex, it's really simple. You just add a few characters to make it ready for programming. At the beginning of the chapter, you do this:

-- Press one of three characters to get you to one of BEX's main-side menus: "J" "S" or "Z".

-- Next type a "Q", which will quit BEX from that menu.

-- Finally, type "NEW" and then one Return. This erases the BEX BASIC software from memory. Don't worry--your auto chapter and any Ready chapter will not be erased by the NEW, because they're stored in Apple's auxiliary memory.

Now skip over your program with {control-A space} to add the final touches to your masterpiece. When you're unable to see the screen you can't tell when the auto chapter has finished typing in the new program. By adding the following after the last line of your new program, you'll get an audible "I'm done" signal.

Press the Return key, and type {?"}. The question mark is shorthand for "PRINT", and the quote is the beginning of the print statement you're writing in Applesoft's immediate mode. Now type three <Control-G> beep characters with {control-C G.} Finish up the print statement with one more {"} quote character.

Finally, you also must add the high-bit character which the Echo pronounces as "delete." This character must end every auto chapter. It cannot be entered from the keyboard, but you can easily add it by copying it with the ever-handy clipboard from an existing auto chapter.

After you're done writing, save your chapter with a name like {PROGRAM}. At any menu prompt, press {control-A,} and then supply the {PROGRAM} name so BEX begins running your chapter. You can shut-up the Echo and relax: while you watch the fireworks, BEX does all the work. First you hear the menu's low beep and then a bunch of clicks (like when using global replace) while BEX writes your program into BASIC at about one sector every five seconds. While you can't test run your program in the Editor, and BEX can't report syntax errors, "don't worry--be happy" there's always contextual replace. I've written transformation chapters to correct my common mistakes.

I'm excited about this added feature of BEX, and I know you will be too once you try it. I haven't yet discovered how to make BEX chapters out of programs; maybe that won't be possible. If any of you figure out a way, I would like to hear from you.

[Editor's note: Your wish is our command, Kevin. What follows is a reprint of an article that appeared way back in 1986. It explains how to turn a BASIC program into a BEX chapter. Your auto chapter method works fine until the character count in the chapter exceeds 2048. When your programs are longer, you can use the textfile method described next. JK]

Using Textfiles and BEX Chapters for BASIC Programs -- David Holladay

A BASIC program line can contain up to 256 characters. Most people number their programs starting with a round number like "10" or "100," but you actually can number the first line as "line zero." To make a textfile out of a program, you add one line, as line zero, containing several statements separated by colons. First, load your program into memory. Then, at the BASIC prompt, type the following exactly:


After you type in this line, press <CR>, then type RUN at the BASIC prompt. The disk drive whirs as the entire program is listed into the textfile named MY PROGRAM. This textfile is written on DOS's current drive; if you want the textfile on drive 2, then CATALOG drive 2 before running the program.

If you are doing a lot of programming, you probably will get tired of repeatedly typing in the information in line zero. You can save this one line program as a textfile, then EXEC this textfile whenever you want to list a BASIC program.

Once your program is in a textfile, you use the Second menu option R - Read textfile to copy it into a BEX chapter. Now you can edit the chapter to your heart's delight. When you're done, use the Second menu option W - Write Chapter to textfile to get it back to a BASIC program. To get the correct format for the textfile, place the following commands at the start of your BEX Chapter:

{ $$w240 $$l1 $$s1 $$i0 $$su}

Now all hard <CR>s, new line ($l) indicators and new paragraph ($p) indicators are executed the same way. The {$$su} command makes BEX print all the text of the program as uppercase, but the ($p) commands remain in lowercase, so they still work. For the sake of example, let's name this textfile REVISED PROGRAM. When you want to regenerate the program, proceed to the BASIC prompt, and type the following:



The EXEC instruction tells the Apple to find the named textfile, read it a character at a time, and interpret each character as if it were being typed in from the keyboard. If your Echo is on, you will hear only the BASIC prompts for each line. While most programmers don't like to think about errors and mistakes, they are a fact of life. If there is an error in a line, Applesoft will respond with an error message as it's execed into memory. Try to keep notes on any lines that need repair. When you're done, remember to save the program to disk!

MFH's MusicWrite Project: Making Music Composition Accessible to the Visually Impaired -- David Goldstein

[Editor's Note: Mr. Goldstein has kindly granted permission to excerpt this article from his meaty and literate VersaNews--sub info in "About the Authors." JK]

The bottom of each VersaNews title page proclaims that we are sponsored by the Music Foundation for the Handicapped (MFH). I would like to tell you a little about this organization, where I work as an administrative assistant and teacher. I also want to share our work to date in setting up a computer music system for blind composition students, as well as names and addresses of music-related software and hardware.

MFH Grows with the Challenges

MFH was started 11 years ago by Patricia Hart, who was looking for a way to use her experience in the arts and public relations to fill unmet needs. Rapidly losing her sight from retinitis pigmentosa, she undertook a study of options available to visually handicapped people who wanted to become involved in music. She learned that although music was accepted as an avenue of enrichment and offered careers for some people, there was no place in Connecticut where people could learn braille music or take lessons from teachers who understood the special needs. The University of Bridgeport, interested in making its facilities available for community outreach projects, accepted her proposal for using classrooms and recital hall on Saturdays.

From a group of ten children and adults and two volunteer teachers, MFH has grown to become a fully accredited school of the arts with a paid faculty of 25 professional artists. More than 400 students take part in our programs each week. Ms. Hart is fond of saying that the main reason for the Foundation's growth is that people come to us with a need for some arts-related activity which they can't find anywhere else. When challenged, we try to fill those needs, and the resulting program quickly becomes a regular part of our services.

Starting off with music classes and individual instruction in a variety of instruments, MFH's course offerings have expanded to dance, sculpture, visual arts, creative writing and theater arts. Other programs include a Music Appreciation Club, which offers lectures and trips to cultural events; a dance program in collaboration with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center for handicapped children in public schools; and special activities for children with learning disabilities. Interpreters are available to make all our classes accessible to the deaf. Several group homes are involved, and we also have people coming from area nursing homes. In all our activities, including the nursing homes, we encourage active participation rather than a passive approach used by many music therapists. Our percussion ensemble is made up of people ranging in age from 13 to 85, all having a glorious time together.

We are not a residential facility, so that our services to people in other states are limited. We offer teacher training workshops for public school teachers and provide consultation services to those seeking to set up similar programs. We have a newsletter available in print and braille to dues paying members. MFH is a United Way agency, and is supported by memberships, foundation and corporate grants, and contracted services with nursing homes.

Most of the people who come to us are interested in the arts for personal enrichment and the social equality that arts participation can bring. We also take very seriously those who are studying music in college or working toward a professional arts career. For them we offer tutoring in whatever it takes to succeed--braille music notation, music theory using braille and large-note scores, music reading with the Optacon, or computer training.

Along with the closet full of musical instruments--some specially designed for children with motor disabilities--my office is overflowing with an IBM PC, DECtalk, MBOSS-1 braille printer and music keyboard connected to the computer. Besides giving us the ability to braille reports, budgets and do the rest of our administrative work, the equipment allows us to train blind people in word processing and the use of our special music system.

The MusicWrite Project

Anyone who has awakened humming a melody never heard before knows that getting it from head to paper is not that easy. Even if you have musical training and are comfortable writing it down, what if your medium is braille and you need to share your symphony or composition assignment with the sighted world? It takes literally hours to dictate measures to a sighted assistant, and when you're through, there's the fear that something may not be written down the way you intended it.

For the past ten years, blind composers have been living from day to day with the promise that computers would soon solve all their problems. But as usual with things "just around the corner," the route to that corner has been long, and the corner itself is filled with hidden obstacles. Many of us played with little programs for the Apple or Commodore 64, or electronic keyboards with memory and wondered whether anything practical would come. Then there started to be rumors of wonderful systems that let one play a song on a piano-like keyboard, and the computer would print it out. How would such a system work for blind people? Would we be able to find something with few enough graphics so that we could use speech or braille, and would the printout we'd be able to make be good enough for sighted musicians to work from?

In January 1988 we received a grant from Citytrust Bank to fund the system. We asked everyone we could think of for ideas--music therapists, software vendors, and blind musicians already searching for a way to harness the electronic age to their work. The latter have been more than willing to exchange information, and we try to keep each other abreast of new developments. With a small staff, limited funding and concentration diffused among the myriad of tasks of keeping a school going, we have not had much time for research and experimenting. The ideal solution would be to write a program from scratch, such as the one under development at the University of Arizona (see below).

The best we could do was to look for off-the-shelf software with few enough graphics to be accessible through speech. To do this we had to make a number of compromises, and the resulting system has serious limitations. Nevertheless, it does allow students to work independently. Material can be entered into the computer from an electronic keyboard, edited, and printed out. The printout may not be quite as accurate as it should be, but it is close enough to be understood and recopied by a sighted assistant. This still may be slow, but it's much faster than spending hours dictating a score measure by measure.

The Music Foundation for the Handicapped is one of the few facilities in the country with such a system that blind musicians can use on an appointment basis. We are ready and willing to serve as a resource for anyone wishing to set up such a system. At the end of this article is an address list of the hardware and software manufacturers mentioned. I can put you in touch with blind musicians involved in similar projects if you contact me at the Foundation.

Seven Components of MusicWrite

Our system consists of a Casio CZ-1 electronic keyboard connected to an IBM XT via an OP4001 MIDI card from Voyetra Technologies in Pelham, NY. (MIDI is a standard way for computers and electronic instruments to communicate musically.) To store the MIDI information for further use, we use the Sequencer Plus Mark III software, also from Voyetra. We can replay and edit the information in the sequencer file that Sequencer Plus creates. To convert the finished sequencer file to a print score we use The Copyist from Dr. T's Music Software, Chestnut Hill, MA.

Both programs are accessed through speech using the Verbal Operating System by Computer Conversations. (Other screen review programs provide the same type of access, though Vert Plus has been reported to cause serious hardware conflicts.) For speech output we use a DECtalk which came from Digital Equipment Corporation's grant program for nonprofit organizations. [Digital's program is still in place--check the Bulletin Board for details. JK] Off-the-shelf, the MusicWrite system costs $3500, not including the DECtalk.

Accessing Sequencing Software through Speech

The heart of the system is the sequencing software, the program that allows you to play in your piece from the piano keyboard and edit and store it on the computer. We chose Sequencer Plus Mark III after looking at several other programs. Sequencer Plus has the advantages of being simple to learn for basic operations and allowing you to do a good deal of the more complex ones without visual cues from the screen. It didn't take long to learn how to change the tempo and time signature, transpose, and repeat phrases to the point of turning a one-part melody into a complex canon. The program can change songs from major to minor, have several rhythms going at the same time, and produce effects to keep new-age composers happy for years.

As with some other programs that take advantage of a full-screen layout, many of Sequencer Plus's commands are accessed by moving the cursor to the proper choice and pushing the Enter key. We have found that a majority of these commands can also be accessed by typing the first letter of the command. For those that can't be accessed this way, such as the commands for selecting the channel or sound program number, we have found that the best way to find the proper place is to memorize the column number. Moving the cursor until the speech program tells you that it is on column 32 puts you in the right position to select the program.

To record your piece, you simply type "R" for record and push the space bar. A metronome begins beating out the rhythm, and you play along with it. At the end of your piece, push the space bar to stop the metronome. You can get the piece played back by pushing the space bar alone. If you wish to add another track or part, simply move the cursor down one line and press "R" again. You can record up to 64 tracks in this way. The speech program will give you cues like "2 track just recorded" when you read the line that the cursor is on.

Editing the Sequencer File

Things get a little more complicated, but not totally impossible, when it is time to edit the piece. Sequencer Plus does not put actual musical symbols on the screen; if it did, there would be no way to access it with speech. Instead, it uses what is termed a "piano roll" notation. The notes are shown with regular letters arranged vertically on the screen, with measure lines and note values on the horizontal axis. A sighted person can edit or even write music by moving the cursor from one note to the next and inserting the note into the proper place in the measure. This is quite difficult for a blind person, though the speech will tell you what note you're on by actually saying "c" or "c pound" for c sharp.

What makes editing practical for us is that notes can be changed in value by pushing the plus and minus keys. You can find the note you wish to change by letting the song play until you hear it, and then stopping it on that note. Pushing plus or minus at this point changes the pitch, and you actually hear the new note on the electronic keyboard. You can also move sequentially from one note to the next in your piece by pushing the tab key. You hear each note played as you come to it and can change its pitch, length and starting point with the plus and minus keys. The ability to hear each note as it goes by was such an important feature that it made Sequencer Plus Mark III worth its $495 cost.

Printing Out the Score

We make no bones about the fact that at this stage our printouts don't come out very well. At best, the score is good enough so that a sighted person can recopy it into a more readable format; at worst, notes may be off the beat, quantized and tied from one measure to another. They may be in the wrong clef so that there are 12 or more ledger lines above or below the staff. In any case, the pitch values are correct and the time spent by a copyist working along with you is substantially less than dictating the piece from scratch.

Why the problems? The main one is that we are really asking our system to do more than what it was designed for. MusicWrite is not an integrated package designed from the ground up for printing from keyboard entry. Programs like Personal Composer or Finale (on the Macintosh) put musical symbols on the screen from the very outset, so that printing is merely transfer of the information from screen to paper. We are hooking together a sequencer, designed to work with the audio and performance aspects of music, with another company's music editor, which just happens to be able to convert sequencer files into files that it can print.

The Copyist works with speech up to a point. You can go through the conversion menus and listen to a series of questions about your piece--the time and key signatures, how you want things quantized, whether a particular track should have the bass or treble clef, etc. I haven't quite gotten the hang of moving the cursor to the highlight answer choices, but I'm getting better at it with practice.

But when the questions are finished, the score comes up on the screen and everything is silent. You can only start the printing procedure and hope that things will come out well enough. I often ask a sighted person for help at this stage; he can look at the screen and possibly make some corrections. Sighted people tell me that this program is awkward for them to use. The Copyist will put each track of the sequencer file on a different staff, but as yet we haven't been able to figure out how to print out two-hand keyboard pieces that have been recorded on one track. There are probably better printing programs available for the IBM PC, but none that would fit our budget. We feel lucky that as much of The Copyist is accessible through speech and hope that something better will come along soon.

What We've Learned and What Could Be Done

We have had our system set up for a year now, and a few students are using it. It provides a great deal of creative freedom and independence, but as you can see, it has some serious limitations that we need to continue working on. For those who are interested in trying out their ideas for sound, by recording separate parts and putting them all together, the system can be a lot of fun. I have not had much formal music training, but I was able to use the system to put together a composition for brass which was performed by a quintet in April. The biggest problem I have with the sequencer part of the system is that of continuing where I left off. Printing remains a problem which needs to be addressed.

The more I work with it, however, I wonder whether we are asking too much to expect that something played on a keyboard will print out exactly the way it was entered. I doubt there are many professional musicians who can play with the precision a computer demands. Some of the very expensive programs may bring the correcting down to a minimum, but I think for many of us it is worth investigating other ways for entering and printing out music. Those who know braille music, or are comfortable thinking in terms of pitch and note values, may feel more comfortable doing everything in writing. Solutions may lie with the following projects:

Braille Music Project, University of Arizona. The July 1987 VersaNews reported a research project being carried out at the University of Arizona to convert braille music entered from a computer into sound or print. The first stage of this project, which used an Apple II Plus and 4-voice synthesizer board, demonstrated the feasibility of translating braille music symbols into printed scores. Project organizer Professor Timothy Kolosick has applied for additional funding to develop a braille music work station. The system would employ an IBM PC, MIDI keyboard and printer to provide a sophisticated work station for composition using braille symbols. Input to the system would be from a braille keyboard, typewriter keyboard or MIDI keyboard, and perhaps someday from an optical character reader.

Eureka A4: The Eureka A4, manufactured by Robotron in Australia, is a multi-function portable computer system with braille keyboard and speech output. The Eureka features a built-in music composer that can be used in several ways. In its simplest mode, notes are found by moving the cursor up and down until the right pitch is heard. The note becomes part of your piece when you type in its value on the braille keyboard. Another way to enter music is through the word processor in a code somewhat like braille music notation. Once the music is stored on disk, a separate program can be used to produce a print score. Currently, the Eureka is capable of four voices and 3 instrument sounds. This summer an expanded music option will be available. It will allow up to 9 voices, 15 instrument sounds, and drums, as well as some other refinements. It will be interesting to see how well this system works for professional music situations.

Inviting Other Experimenters

Those of you who have some computer background may enjoy trying your hand at developing something simple that works for you. I have been thinking for a while about writing a conversion routine that would take the most commonly used braille music signs and turn them into a code from which sighted people could write out a regular score. A number of books on MIDI systems are available, including one from Computerized Books for the Blind, which could help if you would like to try writing your own music program. Whatever you invent or discover, we hope you will share it with others. The Music Foundation believes that self-expression in the arts satisfies a vital human need, and anything that can help increase the freedom and fluency in which this can be done is worth being shared.

Music Resources

Voyetra Technologies

333 Fifth Avenue

Pelham, NY 10803

Telephone: (914) 738-4500

Sequencer Plus Mark III, $495.00; OP4000 MIDI card $175.95. Voyetra offers substantial discounts to schools and nonprofit organizations. A demonstration disk is available.

Dr. T's Music Software

220 Boylston Street, Suite 306

Chestnut Hill, MA 02167

Telephone: (617) 244-6954

The Copyist, available in several versions starting at $195.00.

Robotron Access Products, Inc.

P.O. Box 1603

Ansonia Station, New York, NY 10023

Telephone: (212) 580-5956

Eureka A4 $2595 U.S.

Braille Music Project

Dr. Timothy Kolosick

School of Music, University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ 85721

Telephone: (602) 621-1655

David Goldstein

Music Foundation for the Handicapped

University of Bridgeport

600 University Avenue, Room 213

Bridgeport, CT 06601

Telephone: (203) 366-3300

Using BEX's Braille Keyboard Mode -- Phyllis Herrington

We've fielded a number of calls recently from people boggled by braille keyboard, so let's explain exactly how you do it. Two things are required to use braille keyboard at all: the appropriate configuration and the correct equipment.

Braille keyboard mode requires a User or Master Level configuration. When you're working at the Learner Level and issue the braille keyboard command, BEX just beeps and ignores it. Use option V at the Starting Menu to list the level of a particular configuration. Read Section 3 at the User Level for hints on establishing a User Level configuration. (And if you're doing braille entry, you can probably benefit from configuring a Braille Previewer--details in User 6:7-10.)

The equipment issue is a little more complicated. When you're working on an Apple II Plus, IIe, IIc, or IIc Plus, it's smooth sailing. When you have an Apple IIgs, braille data entry can require a different keyboard than the one that came in the box--please read David's article (next chapter) for full details.

The Three Steps to Success

OK, once you have the right Apple and a User Level configuration, follow these three easy steps to use BEX's braille keyboard mode:

1. Edit an existing chapter or create a new one. You can only change keyboard modes inside the Editor.

2. Issue {control-S K B} command. Hold down the control key and tap three letters: {S K B.} When you enter the commands correctly, BEX redraws the screen and boops.

3. Depress the Caps Lock key. If you don't do this, then BEX just beeps for any key you press.

Now you're ready to braille away, using the S-D-F and J-K-L keys just like a Perkins. To move the cursor or add or delete text, you chord any Editor control command, combining the spacebar with the appropriate cells. For example, to begin inserting text, depress space at the same time you depress dots 2 and 4. To advance three paragraphs, press space-dot 1, then dots 2-5, then space-dots 1-2-3-4. Braille keyboard mode is automatically turned off when you quit the Editor. If you want to return to full keyboard entry while editing the chapter, enter {control-S K N,} brailled as space-dots 2-3-4, 1-3, 1-3-4-5.

You have two ways to turn off braille keyboard mode. The quickest is to quit your current chapter by pressing {control-Q.} BEX resets the keyboard to normal each time you quit a chapter. When you want to switch to full inkprint data entry in the same chapter, use {control-S K N.} When you do it right, the screen redraws and you hear a low boop. Don't forget to unlock the Caps Lock key!

Combining braille entry with print screen display is a painless way to learn the screen braille equivalents. Braille an "st" sign and you discover that the computer stores that cell with the slash character. You can also request braille screen display with {control-S S B} (40-column) or {control-S S J} (20-column).

Braille Data Entry Now Possible on the Apple IIgs -- David Holladay

As we stated in the July/August 1987 issue of the Newsletter, you can't do braille data entry through the standard Apple IIgs detached keyboard. This is still true. What's new is you can now obtain replacement keyboards that plug into the Apple IIgs, and their hardware allows for braille data entry. You can use braille keyboard mode with the Apple Extended Keyboard, the Ehman Engineering keyboard, and the DataDesk Mac 101 keyboard. However, these keyboards require you to use a different group of six keys to enter the braille cells. Because you must use different keys, you must modify or "patch" your software. Before I get into this too deep, I want to offer three loud "Hurray!"s to Ken Smith of California, who has kept this issue alive with Apple Special Education for two years. His persistence has paid off.

Background on Braille Keyboard Mode

When you're configured at the User or Master Level of BEX, you turn on braille keyboard mode in the Editor by clicking down Caps Lock and issuing the command {control-S K B}. At this point, BEX recognizes the SDF-JKL keys as the braille keyboard. For example, you make a braille "g," dots 1-2-3-4, by pressing D-F-J-K at the same time. When you need to issue BEX Editor commands, you "chord" them. BEX treats a "chorded" letter--formed by pressing the spacebar with the letter--as a control character. Pressing space-D-F-J-K all at once makes a control-G, and BEX moves the cursor ahead one word.

So much for basic BEX: on to the hardware. You need a keyboard that can generate multiple characters from simultaneously pressed keys. Technically, this is known as "n-key rollover." Second, you need to locate a group of keys which function well together. In addition to a comfortable location, no combination of these keys should causes phantom characters or dropped characters.

Finally, you need software that watches the keyboard. Using a small time interval, this software interprets the multiple keystrokes as a single input character. The braille keyboard software built in to BEX 3.0 can do this with SDF-JKL keys. When a keyboard supports a different group of characters, you need to inform the software of the change. If you are using Bob Stepp's EDIT program, contact him for a software patch: IIT, Station A, Box 5002, Champaign, IL 61820.

Patching BEX's Keyboard Assignments

BEX 3.0 keeps a little table in memory with the list of key-dot assignments for braille entry. When you press a "magic" character at any BEX menu prompt, it tells BEX that the information that follows modifies a location in memory. At the end of this article, I provide "cookbook" patches for the keyboards we know about.

For each key assignment, you must tell BEX which inkprint key corresponds to which braille dot, following this pattern:

1. Begin at any BEX menu prompt.

2. Press {control-\}. You type this "magic character" by holding down the control key, pressing the backslash key, then releasing the control key.

3. Type a negative four digit number that corresponds to one braille dot.

4. Press carriage return.

5. Type a two-digit number that matches the ASCII value of the inkprint key.

6. Press carriage return.

After the second <CR>, you are back at the menu prompt. You go through this pattern for each key assignment. When you are changing the position of all six keys, you provide this information for each one. Since these changes only affect BEX in memory, you must patch BEX every time you boot the software.

There are two ways to patch BEX. You can type the changes manually, following the cookbook samples that appear at the end of this article. This requires careful typing; errors can change other parts of BEX in memory with unpredictable results. The second method is to create an auto chapter that does it for you, following the instructions in Master Level Section 7. As detailed on page M7:2-4, you press {control-R} at the menu prompt, type in the patch as we show it here, then press {control-S} when you're done. BEX then gives you the opportunity to save the patch in a new chapter. (Alternatively, you can type the patch in a BEX chapter and then use the clipboard to copy the "magic " from one of the supplied auto chapters on the BEXtras disk--see page M7:6-7.)

Patching the Timing Interval

Previously, I mentioned that the program uses "a small time interval" to collect multiple keystrokes and report a single keystroke. One memory value tells the program how many times to look for more keystrokes until it decides that the current character is fully formed. The lower the number, the longer it waits. By significantly lowering the number, you can use the braille keyboard at the Apple IIgs fast speed. By making small adjustments, you can tailor the braille keyboard mode to match your own keying pattern. The pattern for this patch is:

1. Begin at a BEX menu prompt.

2. Enter {control-\}.

3. Type -2587

4. Press carriage return.

5. Type a three digit number between 215 and 254. Use 215 for Apple IIgs fast speed, 245 for Apple IIgs normal speed.

6. Press carriage return

After the second <CR>, you are back at the menu prompt.

Cookbook: Keyboards We Know About

-- Standard Apple IIgs detachable keyboard (Apple part number 658-4081): It just won't work as a braille keyboard.

-- Apple IIe board-lifted to Apple IIgs: BEX's normal SDF-JKL keys works fine, but very precise brailling is required when you use the Apple IIgs's "fast" speed. To change the timing constant, enter the following at a BEX menu prompt:

{control-\ -2587 <CR> 215 <CR>}

-- Apple Extended Keyboard (Apple part number M0115): This keyboard works fine using the keys WER-UIO. (This keyboard is sometimes called "the battleship," cause it's so big--it's an option for the IIgs or any Macintosh model.) To patch BEX for the WER-UIO keys, enter the following at a menu prompt:

{control-\ -2493 <CR> 82 <CR>

control-\ -2492 <CR> 69 <CR>

control-\ -2491 <CR> 87 <CR>

control-\ -2490 <CR> 85 <CR>

control-\ -2489 <CR> 73 <CR>

control-\ -2488 <CR> 79 <CR>}

To lengthen the timing interval when running the IIgs at "fast" speed, enter this as well:

{control-\ -2587 <CR> 215 <CR>}

-- Ehman Engineering Keyboard (model ADB-105): This is a clone of Apple's Extended Keyboard: same functions, much lower price. Follow the instructions in the previous paragraph to use the WER-UIO keys. It costs just $99 plus shipping direct from Ehman Engineering, has a 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee, and sports a 2-year warranty. Contact Ehman at 800-257-1666.

-- DataDesk Mac 101 keyboard: Widely available from Macintosh mail-order companies like MacConnection for around $145, this keyboard is smaller and less expensive than the battleship. However, it costs more than the Ehman, it doesn't have a control-Reset button, and the control key is in the lower right-hand corner, underneath the shift key. When you're using ED-IT (no chording required) the SDF-JKL keys work fine. When you are using BEX, we recommend the DFG-JKL keys; patch BEX like this at a menu prompt:

{control-\ -2493 <CR> 71 <CR>

control-\ -2492 <CR> 70 <CR>

control-\ -2491 <CR> 68 <CR>}

To lengthen the timing interval when running the IIgs at "fast" speed, enter this as well:

{control-\ -2587 <CR> 215 <CR>}

Data for Roll-Your-Own Patches

If you decide to experiment with other key combinations, here's the six memory locations that hold the braille dot values:

dot 1 = -2493

dot 2 = -2492

dot 3 = -2491

dot 4 = -2490

dot 5 = -2489

dot 6 = -2488

To tell BEX which inkprint letter corresponds to which dot, you must provide the decimal ASCII value. Here's a cheat sheet if you don't have an ASCII chart handy. To get the ASCII value for a letter, add its position in the alphabet to 64: A is 65 (64 plus 1); Z is 90 (64 plus 26). Miscellaneous punctuation on right side of keyboard: Comma = 44; period = 46, slash = 47; semicolon = 59; quote = 34; left bracket = 91; right bracket = 93. NOTE TO DISK READERS: This article discuses translator controls, and may be mangled when translated into braille.

Including Nemeth Code in TranscriBEX Chapters -- Jesse Kaysen

When you're transcribing a document that requires a smattering of linear Nemeth Code, you can still do inkprint data entry with TranscriBEX. You simply enter the exact Nemeth braille cells, exempting them from translation with translator controls. You do need to understand Nemeth well enough to enter the correct cells, but I've been amazed at how logical the Nemeth Code system is. (My only knowledge of Nemeth is what I absorbed from working on MathematiX. It took just a few minutes for me to figure out this example, thanks to the alphabetical-order list of symbols in the MathematiX Manual.)

Typing in Nemeth from the full keyboard is pretty easy to do, because the relationship between braille cells and inkprint characters was designed by a Nemeth-literate person. The Nemeth parentheses, for example, are {(} dots 1-2-3-5-6 and {)} dots 2-3-4-5-6. I'll use screen braille to show my samples. If you prefer, you can always change to braille screen display and/or braille keyboard mode (check Phyllis's article 'BASIC BRAILLE KEYBOARD' for how).

Protect Your Nemeth with Four TCs

The translator controls (TCs, for short) are special characters that change how the translator works in the middle of processing your data. Immediately before any manual Nemeth, you type in one of these TCs:

Space, dots 4-5-6, dots 2-5, space {_-} turns off all translation and becomes one space in the target chapter. Use this TC between words.

Space, dots 4-5-6, dots 4-5-6, dots 2-5, space {__-} turns off all translation and disappears in the target chapter. Use when you need to switch in the middle of a word or Nemeth expression.

When you finish typing in the Nemeth braille, you restore literary translation with one of these TCs:

Space, dots 4-5-6, dots 1-2-3, space {_l} turns Grade 2 translation back on and becomes one space in the target chapter. Use between words.

Space, dots 4-5-6, dots 4-5-6, dots 1-2-3, space {__l} turns Grade 2 translation back on and disappears in the target chapter. Use when you need to switch in the middle of a word or Nemeth expression.

With this background, let's see how you use the TCs to mix in Nemeth. Reaching at random in the RDC library, I picked page 57 of Edward Tufte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. (Actually transcribing this book would be a real challenge, since it's three-quarters pictures!)

Figure 1: Inkprint Original

NOTE TO DISK READERS: Sorry, I can't include a typeset inkprint orginal here.

Figure 2: TranscriBEX Data Entry

{\\textbookformat \\pp 57$p Violations of the first principle constitute one form of graphic misrepresentation, measured by the \\i3r5$p Lie Factor .k ? __l size of effect shown in graphic __- / __l size of effect in data __- # \\rt $p If the Lie Factor is equal to one, then the graphic might be doing a reasonable job of accurately representing the underlying numbers. Lie Factors greater than #1.05 or less than #.95 indicate substantial distortion, far beyond minor inaccuracies in plotting. The logarithm of the Lie Factor can be taken in order to compare overstating (log ,,lf "k #0) with understating (log ,,lf .1 #0) errors. In practice almost all distortions involve overstating, and Lie Factors of two to five are not uncommon.$p Here is an extreme example. A newspaper reported that the U.S. Congress and the Department of Transportation has set a series of fuel economy standards to be met by automobile manufacturers, beginning with #18 miles per gallon in #1978 and moving in steps up to #27.5 by #1985_1 an increase of #53 percent: \\i3r5$p ?27.5-18.0/18.0#@*100 .k #[email protected] \\rt$p These standards and the dates for their attainment were shown: ...} $p

Data Entry Strategies

To format the two displayed equations, I had to pester my resident Nemeth expert. Caryn and the Code book advised indent to cell 3 and runovers to cell 5, so I used the "do-it-yourself" {\\i3r5} command before the second and fifth paragraphs. The {\\rt} command at the end of these paragraphs "returns to text" with standard indent to cell 3 and runover to cell 1. The crucial thing to remember about the {\\i#r#} commands is they require you to use {ALL$} instead of {MAKE$}--more details in TranscriBEX 18:5.

The first displayed equation is composed of words. To avoid introducing spaces in the middle of the fraction, I use disappearing TCs between the fraction indicators and the numerator and denominator. This ensures that the opening fraction indicator {?}, fraction line {/}, and closing fraction indicator {#} contact the elements of the fraction. Also notice that for all numbers, I had to switch translation off to manually enter Nemeth digits. The automatic running braille page number and print page indicators are the only English-braille style numbers.

The final subtlety shows up in the "miles per gallon" sentence, where the inkprint has a comma after the year 1985. I enter this as {by #1985_1 an increase}. Nemeth Code requires the dots 4-5-6 punctuation indicator in this situation; you can't simply use the disappearing literary TC followed by a comma. You could enter the punctuation indicator and then switch back to literary: {by #1985_ __l , an increase}, but that's clumsy to type.

After I replace with {ALL$} and then run the Grade 2 translator, the 40 by 25 result is:

Figure 3: Final Braille Output

NOTE TO DISK READERS: Braille out the "NEMETH BRL SAMPLE" chapter to see the result.

As you can see, a little Nemeth is nothing to be afraid of. Combining TCs and TranscriBEX's rich array of formats, you too can produce transcriptions that include math and technical materials.

Using BEX to Format Large Print and Braille Spatial Arithmetic -- Caryn Navy & David Holladay

MathematiX is a unique tool, well-suited for producing printed output from Nemeth Code braille input. However, MathematiX does not answer all the needs for manipulating math material to create braille or large print. MathematiX's output, which can include square roots, spatial fractions, special symbols, etc., is only in regular print, not large print. MathematiX does not translate from print input into Nemeth Code braille.

In this article, we explore the techniques you can use to make large print and braille spatial arithmetic with BEX. For print output, you're restricted to the math symbols available on the Apple keyboard. In terms of arithmetic, the plus sign, minus sign (hyphen) and multiplication sign (lowercase x) are at your fingertips. For braille output, you need to know the appropriate Nemeth Code symbols--as you'll see, they are easy to remember. BEX's format commands provide all the tools you need to arrange arithmetic spatially. The spatial formats for large print and braille arithmetic are quite similar. After we present the large print techniques, you'll discover that creating a Nemeth braille version involves only minor modifications.

Unpacking the Format Toolbox

We use the term "spatial arithmetic" to describe the familiar format of worksheets and problem sets. Each problem is a vertical stack of numbers. To save space, you distribute two, three, or more problem stacks horizontally across the page. The "separation line" at the bottom of a stack of numbers shows the boundary between the problem and its solution. The three important format issues are readily addressed with these BEX commands:

-- Distributing the problem stacks across the page: use BEX tabs.

-- Aligning the numbers on the right (or the decimal point): use {<Control-S>} sticky spaces.

-- Keeping each stack together so they don't break between output pages: use the {$$vl#} conditional page break command.

Creating the separation line in print is a snap: simply underline the bottom-most number in the stack with {... $$uf} commands. For braille, the separation line is a row of dot 2-5s--more on this later.

Here's a sample problem set, formatted to a carriage width of 42 characters:

NOTE TO DISK READERS: Print the "SPATIAL L P SAMPLE" chapter to a large print printer to see what we mean. Can't print to 20-column screen (SL) because it uses a carriage width greater than 20.

With the {&} character representing the sticky space (it looks like an underlined S on the screen), here's the BEX data entry for the first four problems:

NOTE TO DISK READERS: Every actual control-S in the following sample would be a plain space in your real data entry--they're just there to defuse the format commands. The sticky spaces in your real data entry are shown below with the ampersand.

{ $$ss $$w42 $$i0 $$s4 $$tc $$t8 $$t16 $$t24 $$vl7&800 $$ &437 $$ &537 $$ &&25$l$$ub -104 $$uf $$ &&27 $$ $$ub - 26 $$uf $$ $$ub &x10 $$uf$l $$ $$ub +956 $$uf} $p

Step-by-Step through the Format Commands

The first step is a little planning. You can't write one complete problem, then roll the paper backwards to do the next one. Instead you must work a line at a time sweeping from top to bottom. The widest problem is three digits plus a sign of operation--four characters. We assumed that all the problems were four characters wide, which gives us a single standard for counting characters later on.

The initial problem on each line begins right after a hard <CR>. To allow for four digits width plus breathing room between each stack, we cleared any previous tabs then established three tab stops at positions 8, 16, and 24. To actually move to the tab stop, enter four characters: space, dollar, dollar, space.

Whenever an entry is less than four characters wide, we precede it with enough sticky spaces to make four characters total. For example, the first three entries are three-digit numbers, so each starts with one sticky space. The last number on the first line is just two digits, so it's preceded by two sticky spaces. In BEX's Editor, you create a {<Control-S>} sticky space by entering {control-C S}. To turn on the sticky space function for printing, enter {} at the start of the data, as we did here.

Three of the problems end at the second line. We draw the separation line with {... $$uf} commands around each of the bottom-most numbers. Here's the data entry for the second set of problems:

{$p $$vl7 &&19 $$ &&11 $$ &205 $$ 1400$l &&&8 $$ $$ub &x11 $$uf $$ &105 $$ $$ub +&20 $$uf$l$$ub &+ 9 $$uf $$ $$ $$ub + 90 $$uf}

This second group begins with a paragraph ($p) indicator. At the start of the data, we set the paragraph line space to four <CR>s with { $$s4}. This allows enough room between each group of problems for the student to write in the solutions. We set the paragraph indent to zero { $$i0} so the first problem on the line could still fit in.

The { $$vl7} command at the start of both groups ensures that the stacks themselves (3 lines) and the space after for the solution (4 lines) aren't broken between pages. When BEX encounters this command as it's printing, it moves to a new page if fewer than 7 lines remain on the current output page.

At the outset we claimed that no problem was wider then four digits. That's indeed true, but we forgot to count the extra character used by the operator--the plus, minus or multiplication sign. In the final problem above, you can see how we cheated our way out of this bind. We tucked the plus sign under the digit "1." This is OK for print, but won't work for braille.

Data Entry Hints

When you're doing tricky formats like this, you can check your work without leaving the Editor. At any point, you can enter {control-V,} which prints the current BEX page to the 80-column screen. Use {control-S} to pause and restart the display; <Esc> to exit this preview mode early, and <Space> when you're done checking format. To make the {control-V} preview accurate, put a carriage width command at the start. We use { $$w42} since we're working with an 18-point large print printer whose carriage width is 42. When you preview underlining in the Editor, you'll see inverse video, not underbars. (More tips on Preview Mode appear in BEX User Level pages U5:23-25.)

The Clipboard can speed up data entry even more. In this sample, we typed the following "template" line at the top of the BEX page:

{<CR>&&&& $$ &&&& $$ &&&& $$ &&&&}

We used the Clipboard to insert a copy of this line in the page. We'd overwrite each {<Control-S>} character with the appropriate number or operator. Then we'd insert another copy from the Clipboard for the next line. When data entry is all finished, remember to delete the template line at the beginning. We inserted the underline commands after we'd written out all the problems. Copy { $$uf} to the Clipboard and insert this for both underline begin and finish. The final step is change the "f" to "b" for the start of the separation lines.

Making Nemeth Code Versions

Once you know which Nemeth characters to enter, you use the same basic technique for a braille version. You must type the correct Nemeth Code characters yourself, since BEX does not contain a print to Nemeth Code translator. Luckily, "screen braille" (the relationship between inkprint characters and braille cells) was designed by someone familiar with Nemeth, so the few cells to learn are easy to remember. Here's the ten-cent guide:

-- For the Nemeth digits 0-9, you type the inkprint numbers 0-9.

-- For a Nemeth plus sign (dots 3-4-6), type an inkprint {+} plus.

-- For a Nemeth minus sign (dots 3-6), type an inkprint {-} hyphen.

-- For a Nemeth multiplication or cross product sign (dot 4, 1-6) type two characters: {@*} at-sign, asterisk.

-- For the separation line (dots 2-5), you use a row of inkprint {3}s.

Just like inkprint, you align the numbers on the right, with tabs and sticky spaces. The longest number in the entire stack determines the horizontal position of the plus or minus sign: this operator appears in the cell column immediately to the left of the column containing its first digit. Vertically, you always place the plus or minus sign on the line above the separation line. The multiplication operator is handled differently: it's always right next to the bottom multiplier.

The longest element in the problem determines the width of the separation line: it must be at least one cell longer on both left and right. It's easier to divine from a sample than an explanation. Here's the screen braille version of our sample (with the answers shown, just for fun):

NOTE TO DISK READERS: Braille out the "SPATIAL BRL SAMPLE" chapter on this disk to see this data.

Knowing the width of separation lines is the key to setting tabs in the right places. To figure the number of 3s in the separation line, find the longest number in the problem, add the length of the operator, and then add two. In the first problem, for example, the longest number is "800". Three for each digit, plus one (for the minus sign), plus two yields a separation line of six 3s. The fourth problem in the first group is a little trickier. Two for "25", plus two for the multiplication sign, plus two yield six 3s. When you're tight for space horizontally, you can have as little as one column of blank cells between separation lines in adjacent stacks. In this case, there's room enough for three blank cells between each stack. Here's the BEX data entry:

{ $$w41$$ss $$tc $$t9 $$t18 $$t27 $$vl4 &&800 $$ &&437 $$ &&537 $$ &&&25$l &-104 $$ &&&27 $$ &-&26 $$ &@*10$l 333333 $$ &+956 $$ 333333 $$ 333333$l &&696 $$ 333333 $$ &&511 $$ &&250$l $$ &1420$l$l $$vl5 &&19 $$ &&&11 $$ &&205 $$ &&1400$l &&&8 $$ &@*11 $$ &&105 $$ &&@*20$l &+&9 $$ 333333 $$ &+&90 $$ 3333333$l 33333 $$ &&121 $$ 333333 $$ &28000$l &&36 $$ $$ &&400}

Notice that you type one more sticky space than in the print sample. That's because the separation line extends one cell to the left of the longest element in each problem. While you could use BEX's braille keyboard mode to enter your Nemeth data, the print keyboard is probably faster. If you need other symbols, you can look up the screen braille (ASCII) equivalents in the screen braille list on the BEX Thick Reference Card. For example, to enter the dots 4-5-6 punctuation indicator, enter the print underbar character. To confirm you've gotten the right cell, simply turn on braille dot screen display in the Editor with the {control-S S B} command. (You return to 40-column HI-RES display with {control-S S H.)}

For more details on the spatial format, check the Nemeth Code book rules 24 and 25 (rules XXIV and XXV for those of you born in the Roman era). Another good resource is Ruth Craig's book Learning the Nemeth Braille Code: A Manual for Teachers, Brigham Young University, 1979. (Unfortunately, this book is out of print--if you see one lying around, grab it!)

As Jesse explains in full (the NEMETH ENTRY IN TBX) article) you can use BEX's translator controls to switch between Nemeth Code and inkprint within a BEX chapter. By exempting the Nemeth portions from translation, you can count on the Grade 2 translator for most of your work. For spatial Nemeth arrangements, turn translation off by typing {_-} before you move to a new line. Restore Grade 2 translation by typing {_l} after you start the next line or paragraph. This prevents the translator control characters from interfering with the format you see when you preview with {control-V} in the Editor. Speaking of control-V, don't forget to insert the { $$w40} or { $$w41} command at the start of the page.

Our thanks go to Diane Spence and her transcribing group for getting us started on this technique. Give it a try!

Bulletin Board

Kurzweil Personal Reader for Sale

KPR Model 20, with flatbed scanner and electronics unit, works swell. Only $9400--buyer pays shipping. Includes transferrable (and renewable) service contract paid up through Sept 1989. Call 312-350-5101 anytime for more details.

KRM Series 400 for Sale

Kurzweil Reading Machine, Series 400, for sale! This KRM is in perfect condition and has the latest version of the KRM software (V 4.1). The unit comes with all docs, including the self-instruction manual in print, Braille and on cassette. At $6500 + shipping this handy (to put it mildly) device is priced at nearly half the cost of the auto-scanning configuration of the KPR. It too has auto-scanning and telecommunications ability so you can upload printed text to your computer in ASCII form. The KRM Series 400 remains supported by Kurzweil. Please call Peter Scialli at 804-296-1527. I am moving so if that number is disconnected, call me at 202-686-1378. And by the way, my Desktop Productivity Assistant (DPA) software has been reduced to $50, putting it in line with the two other "Ultimate" programs.

Apple IIc & BEX System for Sale

Joel Shin has deal for you: an Apple IIc, Cricket speech synthesizer, Brother HR15 daisy-wheel printer, and BEX 2.2 for $800 (or best offer). He's also got a lot of Apple II software for sighted people. Give Joel a call for details: 201-579-5445 until September 10th, or 617-493-7003 once the term starts.

VersaPoint Embosser for Sale

Steve Naylor wants to sell his TSI VersaPoint model BP1B braille embosser for just $2000. This 20 character-per-second model includes graphics capability and a parallel cable; bought in 1988, it's never been used. For details, contact:

Steve Naylor

3218 N. Sheffield

Chicago IL 60657

Telephone: 312-348-4882

Low-cost Hardcopy Braille from BEX Chapters

Do you own BEX but not a braille embosser? TFB Publications has a special offer for BEX users. We'll emboss BEX braille chapters for only ten cents per brailled page. The material must be completely formatted (ready to be sent to the brailler) and sent to us on a 5.25-inch disk. All orders must be prepaid. To get an accurate count of how many pages, configure a Braille Previewer, print the transcribed material to it, then count down arrows and spacebars. (Printer class B, printer code 1 or 2--see User Level pages 6:7 through 6:9 for details.) In addition to the ten cents per page, add 25 cents handling for each job, and 25 more cents if you'd like it spiral bound. This offer is good until July 1990. You can call John Dragona at 201-662-0956, or send us material at:

TFB Publications

238 75th Street

North Bergen NJ 07047

Digital Equipment Continues DECtalk Subsidies to Non-Profit Organizations

Since 1986, Digital Equipment Corp. has provided more than 800 DECtalk systems (valued at $1.9 million) to organizations providing services to the handicapped. The DECtalk voice synthesizer, which turns text into high-quality speech, normally costs $4200. It's supported by a wide range of software, including BEX and Flipper. Through Digital's Corporate Contributions Program, qualified organizations can apply for a 60% subsidy on DECtalk purchases. Digital's contributions in the handicapped area focus on programs that promote self-sufficiency, growth, and opportunity for the disabled. To apply for a grant, you must submit a written proposal that includes a letter outlining your organizational charter, program services, specific benefits to your constituents; the number of DECtalks requested (limit of 5 per organization); statement of federal tax-exempt status; and the most recent Annual Report of your organization. For more information, contact:

Jane M. Hamel

Corporate Contributions Program Manager

Digital Equipment Corp.

146 Main St.

Maynard MA 01754

Shakespeare's Plays Available on Computer Diskette

Twenty of the best known plays of William Shakespeare are now available on 5.25-inch or 3.5-inch Apple ProDOS, Macintosh, or IBM MS-DOS disks. Compiled by editor Samuel Reifler, the set is based on the 1906 "Stratford Town Edition." For people with large print, voice, or braille computer access tools, Shakespeare on Disk means independent random access to the Bard. Mr. Reifler suggests a variety of applications: scan for key references; compare vocabulary and speech among several plays; and prepare and print scripts with your own changes and stage directions. For an insight into linguistic change since the Elizabethan period, you can run a spelling checker on selected portions and ponder the "rejected" words.

The plays are hard-formatted and stored as ASCII text files accessible by any word processor. The verses are numbered in tens. In addition to the full text, each play has a separate file containing the dramatis personae and a bare-bones scene-by-scene synopsis. The complete set costs $175 (with shipping) and includes seven tragedies (Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, etc.), eight comedies (Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like it, Twelfth Night ...) and five histories. You can also purchase the seven tragedies for $75, and later complete the set for just $100. For more information, contact:

Shakespeare on Disk

Hollow Road

P O Box 299

Clinton Corners NY 12514

Telephone: 914-266-5705

ABLEDATA Resource for Disability-Related Consumer Products

Over the past several years thousands of products have been developed to help people overcome specific disabilities and live more independently. In addition to hardware like powered scooters, many PC tools have appeared to enable people to use computers competitively in the marketplace. Often the problem is not whether there are appropriate products for a particular need: it's how to find them. That's where ABLEDATA can be of assistance.

ABLEDATA is the largest information source in the U.S. on disability-related products. It's a continually updated product database with more than 15,000 commercially available products from over 1,900 manufacturers. Detailed information is included on products for use in all aspects of independent living, including personal care, transportation, communication and recreation. ABLEDATA is funded by the Dept. of Education's National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, and is operated by the Adaptive Equipment Center of Newington Children's Hospital in Connecticut.

A custom search of ABLEDATA by an Information Specialist will provide specific information on products you need for yourself, your family, or a client. The Information Specialists welcome telephone inquiries 8:30 to 5 Monday through Friday. You may also prepare written requests, describing the type of product you want, or defining your functional limitation and explaining the task you want to accomplish. Up to eight pages of information will be provided at no charge, with a nominal fee for more extensive searches. For those users wishing to search the database independently, ABLEDATA is also accessible via modem through BRS Information Technologies. The TRACE Center in Madison is developing a microcomputer version of ABLEDATA; the initial format will be as a HyperCard stack that can be used on a Macintosh equipped with a 20MB hard disk.

For more information, contact:

Adaptive Equipment Center

Newington Children's Hospital

181 East Cedar Street

Newington CT 06111

Telephone: 800-344-5405 voice or TDD

Conferences of Note

Seventh Annual Closing the Gap Conference October 26-28, 1989

With its focus on computer technology in special education, the CTG conference in Minneapolis is always an interesting and informative event. RDC's David Holladay and Caryn Navy will present workshops on tactile graphics and beginning BEX. There's also going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people interested in the following questions: What is a direct-translation reading machine? Could you read print with a camera that produces a tonal output, a tactile output, or both? What happened to the Stereotoner? Can OCR machines replace the Optacon? Do blind people need special reading machines, or can we use those from industry?

The three workshop presenters are both reading machine users and instructors, and they will surely offer a wealth of experience and knowledge, as well as a chance to examine a display of older reading machines. You can join them for a discussion of the development of personal reading machines, a historical perspective, and current technology. The presenters are: Harvey Lauer and Leonard Mowinski, Technology Transfer Specialists from the Hines VA Hospital, and Sue Melrose, Research and Development Specialist from the Hadley School for the Blind.

Closing the Gap will once again be held at the Radisson South Hotel near Minneapolis. Registration is $185; for information on the more than 150 other workshops and pre-conference tutorials, contact:

Closing the Gap

PO Box 68

Henderson MN 56044

Telephone: 612-248-3294

"AIDS and Vision Loss" in January 1990

About 75 percent of persons with AIDS develop a vision impairment. As therapies for opportunistic infections improve, and life expectancy consequently increases, more people with AIDS will develop AIDS-related vision loss. Agencies and health care professionals providing services to blind and other handicapped persons are now faced with the needs of persons with AIDS. AIDS care providers are for the first time accommodating people who are experiencing vision loss. The conference gives these two distinct groups an opportunity to share information. Rehabilitation personnel, administrators, health care providers, physicians, social workers, educators and agency staff will benefit from the two-day discussion of medical, psychosocial, legal, and rehabilitation issues relating to AIDS and vision loss.

The conference, which costs $130, is co-sponsored by the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the American Foundation for the Blind's Western Regional Center. It will be held at the new Marriott Hotel in San Francisco, and runs Thursday and Friday, the 25th and 26th of January, 1990. For more details, call Edward Straub or Lisa Christie of the Lighthouse at 800-443-4375 (inside California, call 800-541-2453).

About the Authors

Nevin Olson has explored a wide range of fundraising strategies in the past 20 years, from peddling greeting cards to writing grants. He prefers the latter.

Kevin Kirby starts college here in Madison this Fall, after an exciting year as an exchange student in Brazil.

David Holladay founded RDC in his spare time in 1981. He no longer has any spare time.

David Goldstein has edited VersaNews for the past five years. Why not subscribe today? It's published three times a year in VB II disk, VB tape, and print at the bargain rate of $20 U.S. Write to 87 Sanford Lane, Stamford CT 06905.

When Phyllis Herrington isn't hard at work providing RDC technical support, she enjoys canoeing (but leaves Claire on shore).

Jesse Kaysen didn't think she could learn enough about Nemeth Code to write the MathematiX Manual--but she did.

Caryn Navy, a heavy Nemeth Code consumer, writes prose and programs for RDC.

Back Cover Material

The RDC Full Cell

Phyllis Herrington, Tech Support/Newsletter; David Holladay, Programming; Jesse Kaysen, Publications; Caryn Navy, Programming; Nevin Olson, Business Manager; Susan Murray; Order Processor.

Production Notes

Written & edited with BEX on an Apple IIgs. BEX commands changed to Microsoft's RTF/Interchange format control words with BEX's Contextual Replace. File transfer with BEX & Hayes's Smartcom II to an Apple Macintosh SE. RTF commands interpreted with Microsoft Word 4.0. Pages composed with Aldus's PageMaker 3.02, output on an Apple LaserWriter Plus, and printed at The Print Shop. Two-track audio edition mastered on APH Recorder & copied on high-speed Recordex 3-to-1 duplicators.


Apple Computer, Inc: Apple IIc, IIc Plus, IIe, IIgs. Digital Eqipment Corp: DECtalk. International Business Machines Corp.: IBM-PC, PC XT. Raised Dot Computing, Inc.: BEX, MathematiX, TranscriBEX. Street Electronics: Echo. Telesensory Systems, Inc.: VersaBraille, VersaPoint, Vert Plus. VTEK: MBOSS-1. Xerox: Kurzweil Reading Machine, Kurzweil Personal Reader.