Raised Dot Computing Newsletter: Exploring Microcomputer Applications for the Visually Impaired -- ISSN 0890-0019. March-April 1990 -- Volume 8, Number 83.

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: $4 each (specify medium).

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: Caryn Navy, David Holladay, and Phyllis Herrington.

Entire contents copyright 1990 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 This Disk

CONTENTS = this chapter

SENSORY OVERLOAD = Sensory Overload Inc.: Items from Our Catalog

PHONE = RDC Phone Lines

ARKENSTONE = Using an Arkenstone Reader with BEX -- David Holladay and Caryn Navy

TECH SCOOP = Tech Scoop from the Kennel -- Phyllis Herrington

OHTSUKI = The Ohtsuki Brailler -- Phyllis Herrington and David Holladay

GRAPHICS = The Challenge of Computer Graphics -- Olga Espinola

SCANNING = Producing Braille by Scanning -- Dr. Fareed Haj

NAVIGATOR = Plying Troubled Waters with Navigator: My Initial Experience With TeleSensory's Newest System (Part 1 of 2 Parts) -- Dr. Richard E. Hutcheson

GW MICRO = Letter from GW Micro: Follow-Up to Closing of Computer Aids Corporation

BULLETIN BOARD = Bulletin Board, includes: Braille 'n Speak User Group; BEX Training Manual Available; National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science; Continuous Form Braille Labels; Robotron Now in California; Sighted Electronics Address Change; Items for Sale.

FACTS ON FILE = Addresses Mentioned; The RDC Full Cell; Production Notes; Trademarks.

Sensory Overload Inc.: Items from Our Catalog

Each year on April 1st, Sensory Overload Inc. publishes its yearly product catalog. The folks at Sensory Overload are very excited about the new products they are bringing to the marketplace for both blind and sighted technology worshippers.

Reading Aid -- Phyllis Herrington and Caryn Navy

The Frankenstone is our new reading machine developed for us in the laboratories of Dr. Frankenstone in Germany. Other companies tout their products' artificial intelligence, but they seem to be digging in the wrong places. The Frankenstone system includes Trackula, a combination hand scanner and tracking aid. The sensitive fingers on the hand scanner make Frankenstone the only reading machine that can read braille as well as print, letting you preserve your braille documents on disk. Frankenstone has the unique ability to read words written in blood. It also does its best work in the dark. With this remarkable new reading machine, you can really sink your teeth in and get your reading done.

Nutrition Aid -- Caryn Navy

We at Sensory Overload know that healthy customers are the best customers. To make sure that the products you buy have the oat bran that's claimed, you need oatSPOKEN. When you point oatSPOKEN at an object, it tells you how many grams of oat bran it detects for the serving size you punch in. Does Common Sense Oat Bran really have twice as much oat bran as oatmeal? The answer is now at your fingertips. Cruise down the cereal aisle at the supermarket and listen for a bingo.

Recycling Aid -- Caryn Navy

Do you worry about all the braille paper you send to the land fill? Are you spending too much money on braille paper? Sensory Overload is proud to help you reuse braille paper with DotBuster. DotBuster crushes braille dots so effectively that you cannot tell they were ever there. What if you have torn the braille pages apart from each other but you need continuous form braille paper? No problem. Just use the Zip Pages Menu. You can zip pages together and zip the perfs back on. So don't throw away those perfs. Of course, you must use our special Sensory Overload braille paper with zippers on the edges.

Gardening Aid -- James Pardee

Now just in time for the gardening season, Sensory Overload introduces the revolutionary Weed Censor. No longer will you gardeners have to wonder if the tiny plants poking up through the soil are the peas and carrots you sowed or some noxious weed. Just place the Weed Censor's probe on the plant in question. In a clear synthetic voice, it announces the name of the seedling (lettuce, beet, pea, etc.); if the sprout is a weed, it sounds a warning signal. Pressing another button sends a strong electric current through the probe, effectively destroying the invading weed. This product was promoted as the Kurzweil Personal Weeder until SOI was hit by a nasty lawsuit.

Kitchen Aid -- James Pardee

Sensory Overload Inc. proudly introduces the sensational FRIDGE-GUARD. No longer need you worry about the freshness and safety of the left-overs stored on your refrigerator shelves. No longer need you wonder if the food you serve your guests is covered with mold or contains deadly botulism. No longer need you sniff, prod, or, most dangerous of all, taste the food stored in your refrigerator. Just touch the self-sterilizing probe of the FRIDGE-GUARD spoil checker to the surface of the food. The FRIDGE-GUARD's well-modulated synthetic voice identifies the substance from its list of over 250 food items and, most important, classifies the food into one of the following categories: okay to eat; give it to the dog; unfit for any consumption; or toxic waste. Comes with volume control knob and ear phone for late night snacks or private raiding.

Social Aid -- Bruce Toews

Are you tired of always having to second-guess what a woman is thinking about you? Are you tired of being rejected just when you think you've won her heart? Well, S.O.I. has done it again with the Kurzweil Personal Mind Reader. The KPMR is portable, inconspicuous, and has a variety of output modes, such as "does she want to get married?" "does she have a boyfriend she just isn't telling me about?" and "is she only dating me out of sympathy?" There are other examples of this machine's versatility, but this is neither the time nor the place to discuss the added benefits of the optional hand scanner attachment.

Travel Aid -- Mark Dubnick

Are you overloaded with sensory aids? You are a highly efficient, high-powered, high energy user of sensory aids. You have a talking clock, a talking laptop personal computer, perhaps talking medical instruments, a refreshable braille display device, and a reading machine or braille printer. All of this equipment is supposedly portable, but have you ever tried to carry it all? Consider just the weight of the batteries. Then add in a tape recorder or two ... Whew!

Well, now, Sensory Overload comes to the rescue! The BackBuster is a space age titanium frame for all of your portable devices. It is completely modular, allowing you to customize its shelves and bays to fit your individual equipment. The BackBuster comes in two basic configurations. Most of you are familiar with the standard homo sapiens model. The new K9 model is based on a Native American design but updated with space-age materials. Your dog guide will love it!

If you have a particularly large number of high powered devices, you may wish to obtain the Starship Enterprise option. This handy feature does away with heavy batteries and chargers altogether! Starship radiation is beamed directly onto the lightweight dish antenna attachment, powering all of your equipment as needed. The antenna is conveniently and fashionably styled as a hat. With the BackBuster, you can take your equipment to places no equipment has gone before.

RDC Phone Lines

RDC has two telephone numbers: (608) 257-8833 for technical support and (608) 257-9595 for general business inquiries. If you have a technical problem, please use the number for technical support. If you call our main business line, then we cannot serve those with a business inquiry. In addition, if someone calls our technical support line, our technical support staff must be at two places at once.

So please make a note of both our phone numbers so we can serve you better.

Using an Arkenstone Reader with BEX -- David Holladay and Caryn Navy

[Editor's note: We will be writing about other applications of the Arkenstone in future issues.]

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of the Newsletter that BEX can absorb files from other computer systems. We have always discussed using the Input through Slot option on BEX's Second Menu. We have found a different method for use with the Arkenstone Optical Scanner.

The Arkenstone

The Arkenstone is a peripheral for a 286 or 386 IBM or compatible computer. You add to your existing computer a powerful add-on card (a computer in its own right). You plug your off-the-shelf scanner (such as an HP ScanJet) into the circuit board. When you run the PC software that comes with the system, it turns the combination of the card, the scanner, and your computer into an optical scanning and reading system. We used the Arkenstone system to get much of the material submitted for this Newsletter from printed pages onto disk.

When you tell the computer to scan, it operates the scanner and processes what it reads. When you have run out of pages to scan, the system creates a PC file with the text that has been read. The Arkenstone's "TRUESCAN" menu gives you a choice of dozens of different file formats.

We find that it takes between 40 and 90 seconds to scan and analyze a page. If a book is not too tall (about nine inches high), you can place the book sideways and scan two pages at once. If you don't want to spend a lot of time at the computer, you can reduce your scanning time. You can have the scanner save page images in a series of picture files, not yet interpreted as text. It takes us only about 15 seconds to scan a page, or two sideways pages, into a picture file. When you have finished scanning in all your pages, you have to ask the Arkenstone software to analyze all the picture files and turn them into text. The system can do all the processing while you are away from the computer. The only drawback to this technique is that a picture file takes up a lot of room. Each picture file requires about 500,000 bytes. If your hard disk has only 10 megabytes free, you can prepare only 20 picture files (each containing one page or two sideways pages).


We have found a very useful tool for getting material from a PC to an Apple II or from an Apple II to a PC. That tool is a $99 package called Cross-Works 2.0 available from SoftSpoken. Cross-Works is a very special cable plus Apple software and IBM software for computer-to-computer file transfers. The cable has 2 heads on the IBM end (9 pin and 25 pin) and has 3 heads on the Apple end (5 pin circular, 8 pin circular, and 25 pin double-row) for connecting any PC serial port to the common Apple serial devices (Super Serial Card, IIgs port, IIc port, or a IIc Plus port). The software is provided on 5.25 inch and on 3.5 inch formats for both machines. If the supplied cable is not long enough, you can buy a 50 foot extension for $35.

Cross-Works automatically converts WordPerfect files into AppleWorks Word Processing files sent at 19,200 baud. In one very fast and convenient step, your IBM or clone WordPerfect files become AppleWorks files on the Apple II. All of your text and much of the format information are properly transfered.

Performing the Transfer

Here is how we transfer material from the Arkenstone. First we use the Arkenstone to scan a book or article and save the material to hard disk as a WordPerfect 4.2 file (Cross-Works does not handle WordPerfect 5.0 files).

Now we turn our attention to the Apple II on the same desk. We boot the Apple II Cross-Works disk. On the Apple, press return twice, then 2, then another return to indicate that you want to receive AppleWorks data on the booting disk drive. Take out the Cross-Works program disk and insert a blank ProDOS data disk. We have not used the Apple software with voice, but this "script" has worked okay. On the PC, type CW to get into Cross-Works. Select option 1 to send files, select WordPerfect and AppleWorks as the two formats, and select the WordPerfect files to be sent. Wait a few moments for the data transmission to be over.

The result of the data transfer is one or more AppleWorks word processing files with AppleWorks printer options that correspond to the format information in the WordPerfect files. Since the Arkenstone created the WordPerfect files, the format information reflects the layout of the printed page.

Now boot BEX. If you have purchased the ProDOS Bridge software from RDC, then your BEX can read AppleWorks files directly. When you read an AppleWorks file into BEX, the BEX chapter retains all the format information in the AppleWorks file, based on the original inkprint page. Compared to the time it takes to run the scanner or clean up the text in BEX, the data transfers are very fast.

Notice that there is no need to own WordPerfect or AppleWorks. The Arkenstone software created the WordPerfect files, and the Cross-Works software read them. The Cross-Works software created the AppleWorks files, and BEX read them.

The Cross-Works package costs $99.95 plus $5 for shipping and handling. Contact SoftSpoken, P.O. Box 18343, Raleigh, NC 27619; (919) 870-5694.

Tech Scoop from the Kennel -- Phyllis Herrington

The news from the kennel is slim as winter melts into spring.

Starting and Main Menus

An important capability seems to have eluded many BEX users. It is not unusual to be at BEX's Main Menu and need to get to the Starting Menu. Perhaps you need to copy disks, initialize disks, "View a configuration," check "What's in the computer," etc. You do not have to reboot BEX to get to the Starting Menu. When you are at the Main Menu, simply insert the Boot Disk in the booting drive and press the spacebar. The disk spins, and BEX soon notifies you that you are at the Starting Menu. After finishing your business in the Starting Menu, you can similarly return to the Main Menu. Simply insert BEX's Main disk in the booting drive and press the spacebar. After the disk spins briefly, you are back at the Main Menu.

If you are working with BEX's Main disk on a RAM drive (in memory), switching between the Starting and Main Menus is the same. To move from the Main Menu to the Starting Menu, place the Boot disk in the drive and press spacebar. When you want to get back to the Main Menu, simply press the spacebar and BEX finds the Main side on your RAM drive.

The Ohtsuki Brailler -- Phyllis Herrington and David Holladay

The Ohtsuki Brailler is a combined brailler and inkprint printer. By setting its switches or by sending it escape sequences, you can change its output format. You can change between braille and print, just braille, or just print. When you send it grade two braille, it can back translate the braille into print. When you send it print text, it can translate it into grade one braille. You can also have character for character (no translation) output in both braille and print.

Because the Ohtsuki has so many different output and translation modes), and because it often belongs to new computer users, we often get technical calls for help with the Ohtsuki. In this article we intend to give you some hints and tips for troubleshooting and problem solving.

Use a Parallel Interface

The Ohtsuki can be connected to the Apple through a serial or a parallel interface. It is our experience that the serial interface is very quirky. We recommend using the parallel interface. Cable your parallel interface card to the parallel jack on the back of the Ohtsuki. Set bank one of the Ohtsuki switches to: on on off on off off. Do not worry about the other switches on the Ohtsuki. (They are used for a serial connection.) If you use a Grappler Plus card, set the switches on the card to: off off on on.

To use the Ohtsuki with BEX, you need to use a BEX configuration that mentions your Ohtsuki. Prepare a grade two BEX chapter to test the Ohtsuki. Use option P on the Main Menu to Print the chapter. At the "which printer?" prompt, choose the brailler you set up as an Ohtsuki. With the switch settings above, you should get nice print and braille output.

Printing Difficulties

If the Ohtsuki does not print anything at all, there are some tests you can do. First, make sure that paper is loaded and the Ohtsuki is "selected" (ready to receive data). If the printer is not selected, it cannot receive data and just sits there. The SEL button does what the on line/off line button does on other printers. Everyone who has worked around computers has forgotten at some time to check that the printer is on line.

If you still do not get any output, check your cables to make sure they are plugged in securely. Make sure that the switches on the Ohtsuki are set correctly.

Get to the Starting Menu (at the Main Menu, insert the BEX Boot disk and press the spacebar). At the Starting Menu, press W for "What is in the computer?" BEX then tells you what it finds in each slot. You want to know for certain which slot has your parallel card. Look for slots that are designated as "Grappler card," "Pro Grappler card," "Apple parallel card," "SlotBuster card," or "unknown card." Do not worry if BEX does not recognize your card's brand name and just says "unknown card." BEX has no problem sending braille and regular print output through cards it does not recognize. There is one exception, however. If you have a SlotBuster card and BEX says "unknown card," call RDC for technical support at (608) 257-8833.

If you do not see any of these items, then look inside your computer to see which slot contains the interface card for your Ohtsuki. If the interface card is in slot 3, then it must be moved (either slot 1 or slot 2 is a better choice). WARNING: Turn off the power before you remove or insert a circuit card. If you have an Apple IIgs, you may have to use the control panel to change a slot designation to "Your card." By using "What is in the computer?" you can be certain of the correct slot number for your Ohtsuki.

Now use option V at the Starting Menu to View a Configuration. After you press V, a numbered list of configurations on the disk appears on the screen. Select the configuration you made that mentions the Ohtsuki. You can select a configuration by entering either its number or its name. Pay attention to the listing of printers in your configuration. Make sure that an Ohtsuki is indeed configured, and note the slot designated for it. This should match the slot number you found by using "What is in the computer?" If the slot numbers do not match, then set up a new configuration with the correct slot number.

You do not get output to the Ohtsuki if you pick the wrong printer number at the "which printer?" prompt. When you are asked {which printer?}, press the question mark to get a listing of your printers. Look for a brailler with correct slot number, carriage width, and form length. After determining the printer number for braille output to the Ohtsuki, press the number for that printer.

Testing a Direct Connection

If things still do not work, we need to find out if the problem is with BEX. We will try to send some characters to the Ohtsuki without using BEX. If that does not work, we know there is a hardware problem. It is possible that the card is bad, the cable is bad, or the Ohtsuki is not working.

To check direct communications between the computer and the Ohtsuki, go to any menu of BEX, Starting, Main, Second, or Page. Once you are at a BEX menu, press Q to quit BEX. You should see the close bracket BASIC prompt (or the Echo should say "ready"). Type the following: {PR#1 <CR>}. (The number after the number sign should be the slot number for the parallel card for the Ohtsuki.) If you are using a SlotBuster, also type in {<Control-I> 1O} (digit 1, letter O). Now type a few words and press the carriage return. If you get output to the Ohtsuki, then all the hardware is working correctly. If so, again examine the configuration and what's in the computer. Check your chapter for any escape codes or control characters which could cause problems.

If you do not get any output with this test, you probably have a hardware problem with the Ohtsuki, the parallel card, the cable, or even the slot. While we can offer advice, you need to go to a computer store or to your hardware vendor for repair or replacement of defective hardware.

Paper Problems

The Ohtsuki is a continuous form printer and cannot use single-feed sheets of paper. Furthermore, the Ohtsuki requires special paper with little notches at the perfs between the sheets. If you do not have this type of paper, contact American Thermoform Corporation at (213) 723-9021. Raised Dot does not sell braille paper for use with the Ohtsuki.

Switching Ohtsuki Modes with Set-Up Sequences

As mentioned earlier, the Ohtsuki has a number of different modes. You independently control the input mode (what type of text you are sending it) and output mode (for braille or print output or both, and for line spacing). Using the switch settings described above, the Ohtsuki's default is to accept grade two input and to output grade two braille and back translated print on alternate lines.

You control the modes with "escape sequences," so called because the first character is the "escape" character. We represent this character with <Esc>. For example, <Esc> l T means three characters: escape, lowercase {l}, uppercase {T}. Spaces are included between the characters for readability; don't include spaces in the sequence you send to the Ohtsuki.

You can have BEX send out an escape sequence of your choice automatically by defining an "automatic set-up sequence" in your configuration. A set-up sequence gets sent to the printer whenever you start to print.

Selected Ohtsuki Escape Sequences

Since you can control input and output modes independently, you have a lot of choices! The following escape sequences assume your dip switches are set as given above. They're just a few of the possibilities--not a substitute for a careful reading of the Ohtsuki's manual.

{<Esc> l T} -- Set the output line spacing so that 25 lines of braille and print fit on a page.

{<Esc> B} -- Set for braille output only.

{<Esc> 0} -- Set for "ASCII braille" input (no translation).

{<Esc> X} -- Input is inkprint text, do grade one translation for braille output.

{<Esc> P} -- output inkprint only

Page Format Considerations

Getting the carriage width and form length right depends on the output mode. For braille only, use a carriage width of 41 (or 42) and a form length of 25. For braille and print, use a smaller carriage width. If you use the {<Esc> l T} sequence, then you can have braille and print with 25 lines per page.

To use the Ohtsuki for just print output, configure it as a "Generic printer." Give a carriage width of 90 and a form length of 58 and an automatic set-up sequence of {<Esc> P}. We cannot give any recommendations about carriage width for Ohtsuki-generated grade one braille. If the carriage width is set too wide, then the brailler truncates the end of a line. If the carriage width is set too short, you waste paper. Each user has to find a carriage width that works best for them.

The Challenge of Computer Graphics -- Olga Espinola

[Editor's note: Olga Espinola helped convene a meeting on the impact of graphics for blind workers. The meeting was held at New England Telephone on January 10. Olga's report is the best summary of this subject we have seen. If you would like to comment on this, you can send your comments to Raised Dot or directly to Olga Espinola, New England Telephone, 99 High Street, Room 704, Boston, MA 02110.]


The purpose of this meeting was to examine the impact of graphics technology on the blind employee from the perspective of both the employee and the employer. Participants included two blind and three sighted people with expertise and personal experience in various aspects of the issue.

Two major technologies were discussed: tactile graphics and icon-based graphics.

Tactile graphics: moving from traditional brailler graphics via braille printer toward tactile image produced by ink printer (e.g., PixelMaster Thinkjet printer)

Graphs and charts often depict information that is either verbally explained in a presentation or written (as in a memo). Up to now, blind people have managed by accessing textual information alone. But a picture summarizes information which can then be absorbed quickly. A tactile version of the print graph could become as invaluable to a blind employee as it is to the sighted.

Icon-based graphics: accessing applications which currently exclude interface with existing adaptive technology (e.g., IBM Office Vision, OS/2 Presentation Manager)

For the blind employee, access to computer screen output is quickly being curtailed by the advent of graphical interface technology. Developers and vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, and Knowledgeware are moving toward a user-friendly environment that, unfortunately, excludes access by speech or braille devices. Blind employees have already been severely impacted or displaced by these drastic changes.

Clearly, the first step must be to raise the awareness of employers, vendors, and developers. To this end, we would like to start an awareness campaign. Some options include: speaking at conferences, sending open letters to vendors and the press, and writing a book or series of articles. More discussion is needed to develop a definite strategy for addressing this problem. Another meeting will be held early in the 2nd quarter to further explore the possibilities. All agreed to continue to contribute toward the effort and to bring in other field experts.

Tactile Graphics

There are two tactile graphics technologies currently available:

Braille--using braille translation software and braille printer to produce maps and charts in standard braille

Ink--using full-color Laserjet printer (PixelMaster) and any graphics software to produce raised images in nonstandard braille; or, photocopying any print document with special paper and lamp to produce raised image in nonstandard braille

There are many obstacles to the blind with tactile graphics. Due to the painstakingly slow and costly production of raised images in the past, most schools have bypassed their use. Consequently, many blind people have had little or no exposure to them. The concept of a 2-Dimensional surface representing three dimensions is foreign. Most also have difficulty with diagrams, maps, and charts since their tactile sense is used mainly in a 3-Dimensional environment. Previously sighted persons tend to experience this problem to a lesser degree. Adaptive speech and braille technologies are very linear: the reading process involves moving forward or backward, either listening or touching a braille display. Both media greatly reduce the need for dealing with two dimensions. Finally, only 1 in 10 blind people read braille on paper proficiently. As a result of all these factors, tactile graphics have been largely ignored.

Graphs and charts often depict information that is either verbally explained in a presentation or written (as in a memo). Up to now, blind people have managed by accessing textual information alone. But a picture summarizes information which can then be absorbed quickly. A tactile version of the print graph could become as invaluable to a blind employee as it is to the sighted.

The advantages of a color graphics printer that also produces raised images are obvious. Blind and sighted both can be served by such equipment. Sighted workers can produce tactile versions of their print graphs for their blind colleagues without learning braille or using special devices and software. The company saves the expense of buying yet another piece of equipment with limited usefulness.

In business, graphs are a vital and, in many instances, a crucial part of understanding a concept. With the new technologies, the time and cost factors are greatly reduced. As we move more into a visually-oriented environment (that is, a greater use of pictures instead of words), employers need to work toward ensuring that their blind employees can continue to contribute to the organization.

Access to Graphical Interface

For the blind employee, access to computer screen output is quickly being curtailed by the advent of graphical interface technology. Developers and vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, and Knowledgeware are moving toward a user-friendly environment that, unfortunately, excludes access by speech or braille devices. Blind employees have already been severely impacted or displaced by these drastic changes. Often hardware and software are upgraded without consideration of how it will affect them. Internal decisions may be made without awareness of the potential problems.

There are several technical ways to address this issue:

Find an alternative to the current access interface. The means of accessing computer applications that are not graphics-based is through an environment known as ASCII. Explore other ways to intervene between the user and the screen output. It should be optional, not required, that a program utilize graphical interface to output to the screen. Why not let the user decide which output style he prefers. Many sighted people also prefer text to pure graphics.

Make pictures optional. Icons--pictures of mailboxes, calendars, memo pads, etc.--are often "shells" overlayed on menus of text. For example, software developers utilizing IBM's Office Vision architecture are employing this technique. Developers and vendors need to make these shells optional. While not a final solution to the access dilemma, it would be a step forward from the present situation.

Standardize graphical interfaces to facilitate the development of accessible software. With a standard library of graphics as a reference, "smart" screen reading programs could "learn" it and translate it into speech and braille.

Consider sound technology other than in the form of words. It might be possible to use the computer's speaker itself to generate sounds that could tell a user what is on the screen. Sounds are widely used in games; why not use them in other imaginative ways. Although this may seem a far-fetched idea at first, it has many possibilities.

Use vector technology to get at the problem. This methodology is used mainly for architectual drawings, enginering plans, etc. It employs specific values that could be "learned" by a screen reading program and translated into speech and braille.

Much work needs to be done to solve the access problem, but its solution is imperative if the blind are to continue to gain equality in the workplace. Affirmative Action consultants are working to educate their corporations to ensure that blind employees are not left behind due to technological advances. Many attitudinal barriers have been eliminated. As tools become obsolete, we must make sure that workers do not go with them.

Possible Strategies

Clearly, the first step must be to raise the awareness of employers, vendors and developers. To this end, we would like to start an awareness campaign. Some options include:

Contact the National Industry Labor Group and ask to speak at their upcoming fall conference. Organize a team to participate in a panel. We would reach many large employers, NYNEX, for example, and would be able to make a very positive statement.

Contact the Business Advisory Council affiliated with Perkins Project With Industry and ask for their input and assistance. This council includes many local corporations, such as New England Tel. and Raytheon.

Use Human Resource personnel and Affirmative Action consultants to raise executive awareness of the issues. As important customers, corporations can bring pressure to bear on vendors making these technological changes and can encourage those already working on the problem.

Promote parallel development; that is, consider the issues of access by speech and braille technologies at the planning and design stages. In the long-run, vendors would save time and money because they would not have to redesign existing products.

Send an open letter to IBM's senior staff and to its development people. Endorse their current efforts with PM Explorer--a prototype application to make OS/2 Presentation Manager "talk". Encourage IBM to continue the work in light of the growing need for flexible applications that meet the needs of all employees, including their own! While we recognize that the financial return is limited, any such endeavor is good public relations. Send the letter to the press to publicize the commendation.

Contribute to a book or series of articles to be published by the National Braille Press to raise awareness of the issues.

Contact the Berkeley Systems group for their technical input. They are among the few pioneering developers to make the Apple Macintosh accessible to the blind. Consider an open letter campaign similar to the one proposed for IBM encouraging them to continue their efforts.

Utilize the Boston Computer Society's vast network of over 27000 people as a resource. Many organizations and corporations are represented in its membership.

Finally, distribute this document throughout the network of those who participated in the original meeting. We hope that this distribution results in a much larger group at our next meeting in the 2nd quarter of this year. Contact us with ideas, information, and suggestions. Working together, we can win accessible graphics for all.

Producing Braille by Scanning -- Dr. Fareed Haj

In the one year since I have started using a scanner to meet most of my reading needs, I have read well over twenty thousand pages. Ninety per cent of that material was professional and literary text which I simply read and enjoyed. The other ten per cent was reading that I saved on Apple IIgs 3.5 inch diskettes for experimental purposes. Though all those pages were proofread and fully prepared for brailling, only two books consisting of fifteen volumes were actually brailled for an agency. Even so, I now feel that I have enough experience with scanning for braille purposes to be able to anticipate problems and devise solutions for them.

Producing braille by means of scanning is the quickest and most efficient method currently available. Last week I agreed to braille a book. I received the print copy on Friday and scanned it the same night. On Saturday I proofread the book. I was at the computer, and a sighted reader who knew nothing about braille or computing followed with the book. On Sunday I printed the work in braille, and on Monday morning I shipped all three braille volumes along with the original book.

Saying that brailling with scanner input is fast does not imply that it is mindless. Actually you need more skill to scan and braille a book than to use any other brailling method. Until I started scanning, for instance, I never had occasion to use contextual replace in BEX and was not even sure that I knew how to take advantage of it. Contextual replace is now something I need routinely.

Another tool I use routinely is TranscriBEX. TranscriBEX provides the correct formats for the kinds of things found in books: title pages, tables of contents, print page numbers, indexes, and much more. While I suppose you could attempt to produce braille books with a scanner and just BEX, I would think that the process and the result would be less satisfactory.

Title Page

Though scanning automates the braille process considerably, it creates the hitherto unheard of problem of braille glut. A good example is the title page. When you scan, you pick up everything. When you prepare the work for braille, you need to delete some information. In print you sometimes find the names of the book's illustrator or distributors, with their addresses and phone numbers. You get the book's Library of Congress catalog number and information about what you may or may not copy without prior permission. Much of that information cannot fit on the braille title page. Furthermore, in braille you need additional information--who brailled the book, under whose auspices, and in how many volumes. In short when you use a scanner to produce a braille book, you have to prepare the title page virtually from scratch.

Table of Contents

The table of contents is another section which requires extensive manual tinkering. After you braille a book, you need to change the print page numbers in the table of contents to the higher braille page numbers. If you use braille textbook format, then you don't change the page numbers in the table of contents. In that case you must use a contextual transformation chapter which inserts the TranscriBEX command \\pp before each print page number, to place the proper print page indicators.

In the table of contents you also need to insert guide dots between the chapter or section title and the page number. You can do this with \\gd, the TranscriBEX guide dot command. Rather than do this by hand, I do this with contextual replace. To be prompted while creating your own contextual transformation chapter, you must work at the Master Level. Copy the entire table of contents into the Ready chapter or any other chapter you like. Then enter your terminator four times. I use the number sign (#) as my terminator because it does not occur in my list of changes. I proceed as follows:

{Find: <Space> 1 #

Pattern: B^N #

Change to: \\gd <Space> #

Find: #

Pattern: # }

In the pattern string, {B} means blank (space), {^} means "insert the change to string here," and {N} means number (digit). Since the {B} and the {N} are capital letters, the blank and the number they match in the text are not changed. When you use this transformation chapter, it inserts \\gd and a space just before every number in your chapter (to be turned into guide dots by TranscriBEX processing). You must make sure that only the table of contents is in that chapter. You do not want guide dots before numbers anywhere else in your text (unless you are preparing something like a menu).

Once your guide dot commands are in place, you can insert your modified table of contents in place of the original. You may want to name your contextual transformation chapter as {CONTENTS} and save it on a utilities disk for future use (just before Replace Characters returns you to the Main Menu).

Print Page Changes

There are other things to handle in the regular text. To deal with paragraph changes and things that happen at print page changes, I take advantage of the KPR's choices for dealing with end of line, end of paragraph, and end of page. I save end of line as a space, end of paragraph as a carriage return, and end of page as carriage return followed by linefeed. This way I can locate page changes to help deal with print page numbers and running heads, and I change ordinary carriage returns to the BEX paragraph indicator.

Print page changes are an interesting problem. Many books for instance have a running head or a running footer. These must be removed. (Even if you want a running head in the braille, the scanned ones would not be in the right places.) I have just learned a new way to remove running heads. When I scan, the scanner creates linefeeds (control-J) only at inkprint page changes. I use the following transformation rules to remove the line following a linefeed (everything up to the next <CR>). Again my terminator is #.

{Find: <Control-J> <CR> #

Pattern: Xo #

Change to: #

Find: <Control-J> <CR> #

Pattern: #

Change to: # }

In the first pattern string, {X} paired with control-J in the find string looks for control-J exactly (X for exact match). Since {X} is capital, the process does not remove the control-J. The {o} paired with the <CR> looks for any character other than <CR> (o for other than). Since the {o} is lowercase, the character it finds is removed and replaced with the change to string, nothing at all. So any character other than <CR> after linefeed is removed. BEX continues to apply this rule as long as it can, until linefeed followed by <CR> remains (the entire top line is removed). Then BEX can no longer apply this rule and moves on to the next rule. That rule simply removes the linefeed and the carriage return.

There are at least two more areas that demand special attention. One of these is removing print page numbers. If they are on the top line by themselves or with a running head, the previous rule for removing the running head also removes the page number. If the print page number appears on a different line by itself, you can remove it easily. I use three rules to remove these. The find strings {<CR> 1 <CR>}, {<CR> 11 <CR>}, and {<CR> 111 <CR>} are paired with the pattern strings {XnX}, {XnnX}, and {XnnnX}. For all of these the change to string is nothing at all. These three rules find one, two, or three digits on a line by themselves and remove them (the pattern code {n} is lowercase). Again, with a little practice, removing such numbers is very easy indeed.


Footnotes present another challenge. In print many books simply put the footnote number immediately after a word. In braille this is not acceptable. For braille you need a space followed by the asterisk followed by the number. This problem is less daunting than it may at first appear. There is almost always some punctuation before the footnote number. It may be a period, a comma, a semicolon, etc. This makes contextual replace very handy. I use:

{Find: .1 #

Pattern: P^N #

Change to: <Control-S> * # }

With the pattern string of {P^N}, this rule looks for punctuation followed by number and inserts the change to string between them. The change to string is control-S (sticky space) followed by asterisk. If I am preparing my contextual transformation chapter in the Editor, I press control-C followed by s to create a control-S. I insert the sticky space to keep the footnote number on the same line as the referenced word, as stipulated in the braille rules.

Putting It All Together

Contextual replace rules have to be used intelligently and carefully. They should be undertaken experimentally at first until you are sure of what you are doing. On my Apple IIgs I usually copy a chapter onto one of my RAM drives. Then I run the contextual replace and examine the damage. If I am happy with my creation, I copy it onto my data disk; if not, I tinker with contextual replace again until I am satisfied. Take for example the footnote contextual replace. It can play havoc with your book if it contains many biblical passages. For instance, if you have Genesis 13:19 you will be getting 13 followed by colon, sticky space, and *19. Of course you do not want that since a footnote is not intended there. In this case the remedy is quite simple. You do not need contextual replace. All you need is a simple transformation rule. You tell BEX to look for colon followed by control-S and asterisk and change them back to just colon.

Even after you have tried to anticipate problems and take every measure to solve them, you still have to proofread very carefully to spot all those items that escaped your net. Consider footnotes, for example. While most of them do occur after a punctuation mark, once in a while there is one that comes smack after a letter with no intervening punctuation. Unless such a footnote is caught and manually made to conform, it is going to be brailled wrong.

I usually combine all the transformations and create a single contextual transformation chapter to deal with all the problems I have mentioned in this article. The one exception is the contents section which demands separate treatment because of the guide dots.

I always adjust my page size downward immediately after saving my raw scanned data. Braille is supposed to shrink the character count by twenty per cent. But in tables of contents and in heavily footnoted material the number count might actually rise above the print equivalent. In tables of contents the guide dot commands take up room. In footnotes, four extra cells are added in the braille, a space, the braille asterisk (two in-signs), and the braille number sign. By using Adjust pages before doing any replacing, I avoid page overflow problems.

Scanning as a method of producing braille has several tremendous advantages over all others. It is faster than any other technique and makes it possible to braille material that even a year ago I would have considered frivolous. In the past few months I have brailled at the request of blind individuals the following five items:

A menu for a well known restaurant, for a blind young man who eats there frequently.

A manual for an electronic typewriter.

A Sony answering machine manual.

An RCA Video Cassette Recorder manual.

A J.C. Penny Video Cassette Recorder manual.

In my pre-scanning days, I could not produce any printed matter in braille as a blind person. Scanning has made it possible for the blind to become full partners with the sighted in the braille production process for the first time. Furthermore, through scanning, anybody inclined to volunteer can participate in producing braille. While we still need very highly qualified people who are knowledgeable in braille and/or computing, anyone who knows how to read can assist in proofreading, in printing, or if all else fails, in fund raising. Scanning is the best answer we have to date for producing braille that meets individualized needs.

Plying Troubled Waters with Navigator: My Initial Experience With TeleSensory's Newest System (Part 1 of 2 Parts) -- Dr. Richard E. Hutcheson

[Editor's note: This article ends with comments from TeleSensory.]

I want to report here on my first few months with TeleSensory's new Navigator Integrated Braille Computer System.

When I was a young graduate student at Harvard in the early 50's, I made my first significant writing upgrade--I moved from a slate and stylus to a Perkins Brailler (the same machine which I still use even today!). My next upgrade was not until 1980 (after 20 years of college teaching and administrative work)--this time to a VersaBraille Classic. Shortly thereafter, in 1981, I became one of the earliest users of BRAILLE-EDIT. With successive modifications of the VersaBraille over the years, I eventually moved away from the Apple with its heavy emphasis on synthesized speech. More and more I came to depend on the VBII as a stand-alone word processor. In the summer of 1989, TeleSensory started shipping its new Navigator system and quietly let it become known that after 1990 it would cease future development of the VBII series. Since I was looking forward to several major writing and research projects during the next few years, I once again took the plunge. In September I committed myself to yet another upgrade--given my age, it is likely to be the last--I ordered a Navigator.


Navigator is neither a computer nor a VersaBraille. It is a display unit and the software, for MS-DOS machines, which makes it run. Using the Navigator requires using an IBM PC or compatible computer. By itself, the Navigator unit can do virtually nothing--except display its name. The MS-DOS computer must operate it.

The display unit is a flat box, about 2 inches high and approximately 12 inches square. On the slanted front side of this box there are two identical sets of five keys--one set on the left, the other on the right. On the back of the box are an on/off switch, a 9-pin serial port for connection to a computer, a plug for an AC adapter, a release button for the user-replaceable battery pack, and some other items. Across the top, front edge of the unit is a braille display array. It is very similar to the display on TeleSensory's VersaBraille machines. VB machines have had displays limited to 20 characters. Navigator units come in a 20- or 40-character version, and the 40-character version comes equipped for either 6-dot or 8-dot braille.

You can buy the Navigator alone, for cabling to a computer purchased separately, or you can buy it already attached to a Toshiba or Sharp laptop. With either of the laptop computers and a soft carrying pack, the system is said to be comfortably portable. The Navigator alone runs from $4,000 to $6,000, depending on the type of display. A 20-character, 6-dot braille display hooked to a Toshiba T1000 laptop goes for about $5,500--the same price as the most recent version of the VBII Plus (the L1D).

The Navigator software, for an IBM PC or compatible, allows you to use Navigator in different ways:

-- In Navigator's VBPC mode of operation it acts like a very powerful VersaBraille. You can create, edit, and manipulate files, using linear braille, as on the original VBII. Or you can use Navigator's Two-Dimensional Reader to read and move through files, following their two-dimensional screen layout on the braille display.

-- With Navigator's DOS Gateway, you can achieve access through the braille display to most off-the-shelf software running in an MS-DOS environment (but not software written to run on the VBII). In Screen Review, you can examine the screen, in its two-dimensional arrangement, on the braille display.

-- In all of these operations, you can choose to use your computer keyboard in either the QWERTY mode (like a typewriter keyboard) or in braille mode (using six keys of your choice like a Perkins Brailler). The display unit has no keyboard of its own, just the sets of movement keys mentioned above.

Now you have some notion of what a versatile and exciting system Navigator is. It is clear why TeleSensory speaks of it as "an integrated braille computer system." But, out of Navigator's virtues spring its vices.

My Setup

Currrently I am not interested in portability. I live in a northern clime where icy walks are the rule for many months of the year. I am not about to carry around a $7,000 system under such conditions. For portability, the Braille 'n Speak would be quite satisfactory. But for serious work, I want power, speed, and lots of memory. So I use a Navigator 40-character, 8-dot braille unit attached to a Zenith 386 desktop with 4MB of RAM, a 40MB hard disk, two high-density floppy drives (3.5 and 5.25 inch). Among my peripherals and software are a VersaPoint embosser, a KPR, and PC Duxbury. All in all, I am quite "the bionic man."

Getting Started

While attempting to get started, I encountered a number of stumbling blocks.

My Navigator came with no cable to my computer. The first order of business was finding the proper cable between the Navigator and my computer's serial port.

If you want to connect any other serial devices to your computer, it must have a second serial port. Navigator promotional literature had not alerted me to this, even though one built-in serial port is standard. (I was relieved to have two serial ports.)

When I put my master diskette into the drive, it got stuck because of its bulky braille label.

An MS-DOS system allows for an "AUTOEXEC.BAT" file which sets things up as you desire when you boot up. The Navigator's installation program creates an "AUTOEXEC.BAT" file which puts you where you want in Navigator when you boot up. Unfortunately, for many days, I couldn't get my system to boot up properly with Navigator. Everything would hang up immediately. Eventually, I discovered a command line in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file which seemed to be blocking execution. With this line removed, the system worked fine.

Technical Support

Several calls to TeleSensory Technical Support had gotten me nowhere on this problem. Each system setup is so different and the Navigator is so new that experience with it is lacking. As a result, technical help is spotty at best. To this day, I don't know where the errant line came from.

Once when I called TeleSensory about a difficulty, they informed me that it was a bug they intended to fix in the spring 1990 upgrade. Another time the Navigator Project Manager, David Mansoir, thought that my Navigator disk might be defective and promised to send me a new one. No disk has come in the two months since then.

The Manual

The Navigator Manual is an obvious cut-and-paste job, containing materials from previous documents on VersaBrailles, BIT boxes, etc. and showing signs of having been put together in great haste. In itself, cutting and pasting is not necessarily bad. But this production is most unsatisfactory. Those who purchase Navigator probably depend more heavily on braille than on voice. After all, that is one of the major selling points of the system. But there is no braille manual provided! There is not even a braille reference card! I received an audio manual on 3 cassettes and a printed manual. The audio manual is not tone-indexed. What's more, the page number announcements are wrong because material was added to the print copy after recording. The audio manual is read at high speed by a TeleSensory staffer. Try to imagine the Extended ASCII Code (all 256 characters of it) with its 6- and 8-dot braille equivalents read in such a fashion. There is also an ASCII copy of the manual on the system disk. But you must already have the system up and running to read this.

One feature which the supplied manual sorely lacks is a chart showing the full structure of the Navigator's menus. An Appendix with such a reference chart would be a welcome addition.

We should not expect lessons in MS-DOS from TeleSensory. But some elementary guidance from TeleSensory on setting up a system as complex as Navigator seems important to me. In fact, a tutorial on starting to use Navigator with different computers, prepared by someone like Doug Wakefield of Talking Computers Inc., would be very helpful. After all, TeleSensory used him for making a promotional tape for the new product.

In short, getting started with Navigator without assistance from a computer knowledgeable sighted person can be a sticky process. Given the variety of possible setup options and configurations and the overall complexity of the system, the absence of meaningful installation guidance and the lack of a braille manual are serious problems. One expects more thoughtfulness on such matters from this company after almost twenty years of building and marketing adaptive devices.

The Keyboard

In my view, the VBII Plus is ergonomically and aesthetically very well designed. By contrast, Navigator has neither of these strengths. Working with Navigator can be rather nightmare-ish. To cite one example, the enhanced 101 keyboard which comes with my Zenith presents some interesting questions. Where do I put it with respect to the braille display unit? Is the same arrangement equally desirable for data input and for reading long textfiles? Does the best placement depend on how much I use QWERTY or braille keyboard? How much freedom do I have to re-configure the keys without botching up the Navigator? And so forth.

These keyboard dilemmas cannot be easily dismissed. My keyboard is longer than the braille display unit. I have currently settled on placing it across the flat top of the display unit with its right end extending farther out than its left end. The keys are about 3 inches behind the braille array. This is just the reverse of the arrangement I liked so much on the VersaBraille II. I reach over the braille line and slightly up to operate the keys. To strike the function keys across the top of the keyboard, I must lift my whole forearm. With my hands on the PC keys I can reach the buttons on the front of the display with my thumbs, but I must draw my hands away from the PC keys to read the braille line. The buttons on the front panel of the Navigator are for moving the braille display backward or forward by 20 or 40 characters at a time, for moving up and down lines, and for cursor movements. I find myself engaged in considerable forward and backward motion of first the right and then the left hand.

By pressing down two or more keys, such as CAPS LOCK and ALT, the user can switch the operation of the keyboard from QWERTY to braille. For braille mode, you choose six or eight keys to represent 6 or 8 dots. When Navigator starts up, it is in QWERTY mode. There is no way--short of typing--to tell which mode is on. If you begin to type in braille while QWERTY mode is on, you get gibberish. I have found that switching sometimes causes problems. When I switch keyboard modes, the normal utility keys (ESC, Insert, Delete, etc.) don't work. I have to check one of these keys every time I switch between QWERTY and braille keyboard.

I also miss the "macro" keys which were available on the VBII Plus. For example, to move forward or backward on the Navigator by paragraphs requires a chord-p followed by r or l. There is a way of locking paragraph-on and then just hitting r or l as you skim through a document. But then the machine locks at the very beginning of each paragraph, and reading is limited until you turn off paragraph-lock. With paragraph-lock on, you can hold down r or l and typomatic repeat takes you through a file at a fast clip, but it is not really feasible to try to read the text during such scrolling. To minimize hand movement, it would be helpful for the left and right cursor keys to substitute for l and r, as on the VBII Plus. The Manual says this will work, but I haven't gotten it to behave that way yet.

A similar situation exists for Searching backward or forward in the Edit mode. One must press Search, type the string, press Return, then type r or l. In addition, Search requires manual deleting of old entries whenever you want to initiate a new search. This last comment also applies to typing all filenames: If you mistype or change your mind, each entry must be typed anew and the old entry manually erased. (And even with this, back-spacing and retyping sometimes do not work, especially for entering filenames to the Editor or Reader when opening a file. Best just to press ESC and start again.) Note further that the Search function in the Editor operates differently from the Search function in the Reader, and both of these are different from the Find function in Screen Review mode.

On the VBII Plus you can hit one key on the numeric pad and return to the level that you just came from. A different numeric key returns you to the VBII Main Menu. On the Navigator, however, exiting some submenus of the Utilities Menu can take pressing the ESC key or chord-q up to four times.

If macro function keys are added to the system, deciding which keys to use will not be easy. Keyboards and their placements vary. Again: versatility implies complexity.

Comments from TeleSensory

[Editor's note: The conclusion of this article will appear in our next issue. TeleSensory's response to Dr. Hutcheson arrived by fax too close to our printing deadline to be incorporated in full in this issue. Here is a summary of some of the major points.]

Laptop computers vary from very light and small to large and bulky. For a more portable, lighter laptop Navigator system, use a small, lightweight computer.

If you want to attach a Navigator to your existing computer, you should specify the kind of serial ports so it will come with the correct cable. While you are at it, specify whether you want 5.25 inch disks instead of the standard 3.5 inch disks.

Dr. Hutcheson stated in his article that TeleSensory did not ship a promised diskette. David Mansoir writes that he in fact sent the disk express mail right after making the promise. As a general rule, if you do not receive a promised item, it is your responsibility to call the vendor promptly to get a replacement.

TeleSensory is very sorry that there is no braille manual right now. When it is completed, all present Navigator customers will get it free of charge. They held up the braille manual until completing changes in the manual based upon new features. Those changes have taken longer than expected. David Mansoir regrets not having made a braille reference card available immediately. [Editor's note: Producing braille in-house on an embosser when not yet ready to commit to press braille is well within TeleSensory's capabilities. At RDC we do not ship a new product until the braille is ready.]

TeleSensory is also working on a tutorial for VBPC and the Gateway which, when complete, will be sold as a separate item.

To be usable with either a laptop or a desktop computer, the display needs to sit in front of the keyboard. One would need to reach even further to read the braille display if it were placed elsewhere.

The Navigator front panel keys were designed to accommodate reading and cursor movement in situations where one wants to keep both hands on the display--for example, positioning the cursor at the beginning of a word you wish to delete. For extended reading of long files, one can use display movement keys to move the display through text without ever having to remove the hands from the keyboard. It is not imperative that these keys be used every time. The cursor movement keys are found on the PC keyboard. Chord movements also exist for the right panel keys in both Gateway and VBPC.

The front panel of Navigator is sloped upward at about 45 degrees to facilitate pressing these keys when the Navigator sits on your lap. The sloping front may be causing Dr. Hutcheson to lift his whole forearm for typing so as not to activate the front panel keys as easily. We understand this problem and are working hard to deal with this rreport.

One last point about the keyboard. Dr. Hutcheson mentioned having problems in switching between braille and regular QWERTY keyboard modes. In QWERTY mode, you can still issue braille chords, striking braille characters and numbers together with the spacebar. The system does not automatically switch to braille keyboard mode when a chord is entered. Dr. Hutcheson may be confused by the ability to issue braille chords in either braille or QWERTY mode.

Letter from GW Micro: Follow-Up to Closing of Computer Aids Corporation

February 26, 1990

As you may recall, Computer Aids Corporation (CAC) ended business last November. At that time Doug Geoffrey and Dan Weirich (CAC Lead Programmer and Project Engineer) decided to support most of the products through sales and service.

To provide immediate service we decided to start our own businesses (Renaissance Engineering and MicroSolutions) with the idea of combining once things normalized. Since that time many things have taken place. We talked with many of you during these past few months and wish to thank each of you for your support.

This letter is sent to announce the formation of a new company:

GW Micro

310 Racquet Drive

Fort Wayne, IN 46825

(219) 483-3625

GW Micro is a partnership made up of Doug Geoffrey and Dan Weirich offering 98% of the CAC products. We have plans for new products in the future and hereby introduce our first new product, Vocal-Eyes, the new screen reader which many of you have heard about over the past 12 months.

We believe Vocal-Eyes is one of the finest screen readers available and are very pleased to offer it to you. Anyone that purchased Screen-Talk Pro after April 1, 1989 is entitled to an upgrade for a small handling charge. Anyone else that owns Screen-Talk Pro may also purchase an upgrade at a reasonable cost. The first shipment of Vocal-Eyes will occur before March 15th.

We believe in the integrity of these products and are committed to them. We will provide support for existing CAC products as well as honor warranty repairs for all products manufactured by CAC. Any product manufactured by others, such as laptop computers, must rely on the manufacturer's warranty and will be handled on a case by case basis. Please call before returning a product for repair.

A GW Micro product catalog is available. We want to provide the best service and products possible for the blind and visually impaired.

-- Douglas H. Geoffrey and Daniel R. Weirich

Bulletin Board

We're happy to publish your 50 to 100 word announcements here, free of charge--please send them in print, disk, or braille formats to us directly at RDC. Our deadline is the 20th of odd months.

Braille 'n Speak User Group

The Braille 'n Speak Users' Group is now the only source for recorded newsletters about Braille 'n Speak and Blazie Engineering. For those who acquired their Braille 'n Speak before June 1, 1989, yearly membership costs $10.00. Purchasers after that date receive one year's free membership by providing the approximate date of purchase and vendor of their unit. Recorded newsletters appear in January and June; the January, 1990 issue is still quite topical. It contains information about upcoming products, Braille 'n Speak bugs, interface information, an article about expanding printer control options, a discussion about future Braille 'n Speak features, and other tidbits.

To join the Users' Group, or for more information, contact:

Dean Martineau

6809 Sacramento St. S.W.

Tacoma WA 98499

(206) 685-1818

BEX Training Manual Available

Bruce McClanahan has written an excellent training manual Computer Skills for Teachers of the Visually Impaired. This inkprint manual focuses on BEX, but also covers Magic Slate, Talking AppleWorks, AppleWorks GS, and Talking Text Writer. Bruce wrote the manual to use in his week-long training sessions for teachers. Bruce's manual is an excellent introduction to a range of products used with visually impaired students. It is available for $30. Each school or institution that buys a copy will have a site license for it. For more information, contact:

Bruce McClanahan

14002 NE 6th Street

Vancouver, WA 98684

National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science

If you would like to join the NFB in Computer Science and receive their newsletter, Computer Science Update, send your request for cassette or print and a check for $5, payable to NFB in Computer Science, to:

Susie Stanzel

Secretary-Treasurer, NFB in Computer Science

11905 Mohawk Lane

Leawood, KS 66209

The NFB in Computer Science conducted a Seminar for Computer Beginners at the 1989 NFB national convention. A great deal of information was made available to persons who attended the seminar, much of it in braille or print. Tapes of the seminar will soon be available from:

Job Opportunities for the Blind (JOB)

National Federation of the Blind

1800 Johnson St.

Baltimore, MD 21230

In addition, two publications are available to you in print or braille upon request: "Recipe for a First Computer" and a "Glossary of Basic Computer Terms." If you are interested in receiving information about speech and braille screen reading systems for the IBM PC, the NFB in Computer Science has published a document entitled "A Review of Speech and Braille Software/Hardware Systems Designed to Permit Blind Persons to Access the Video Display of an IBM Personal Computer (PC)." This document is also available in print and cassette through JOB.

Curtis Chong, President of the NFB in Computer Science, looks forward to your input. You can contact:

Curtis Chong

National Federation of the Blind in Computer Science

3530 Dupont Avenue North

Minneapolis, MN 55412

(612) 372-2185 (work)

(612) 521-3202 (home)

Continuous Form Braille Labels

American Thermoform Corporation (ATC) now offers continuous form braille labels. ATC has developed Embossables, for exclusive use in any standard braille embosser. This brand new item, first of its kind, is made of specially formulated plastic and unique adhesive backing. A box of 50 8-1/2 by 11 sheets is available for $23.95. To order, contact:

American Thermoform Corporation

2311 Travers Ave.

Commerce, CA 90040

(213) 723-9021

Robotron Now in California

Robotron has made it to Santa Monica, California. Thiel new address is:


3340 Ocean Park Ave., #1010

Santa Monica, CA 90405

(213) 392-3522

(800) 735-1031

Sighted Electronics Address Change

Sighted Electronics, Inc. has moved to a new location (but the phone number has not changed). The new location is:

Sighted Electronics, Inc.

23 Bergenline Avenue

Westwood, NJ 07675

(201) 666-5883

Sighted Electronics provides factory authorized service for Theil, Robotron, and T.S.C. low vision products.

Items for Sale

Brenda Pride is selling the following items as one package: an Echo speech synthesizer, a BEX version 2.1 with all disks, print manual, audio manual, and braille reference cards. She is asking $325 for this complete package.

If you know of anyone who is interested in buying these items, please have them contact:

Brenda Pride

803 B. South Cedar Avenue

Niceville, Florida 32578

Facts on File

GW Micro

310 Racquet Drive

Fort Wayne, IN 46825

(219) 483-3625

Personal Data Systems

100 Rincon, Suite #207

Campbell CA 95008

(408) 866-1126


3340 Ocean Park Ave., Suite #1010

Santa Monica, CA 90405

(213) 392-3522

(800) 735-1031

Sighted Electronics

23 Bergenline Avenue

Westwood, NJ 07675

(201) 666-5883

Sensory Overload, Inc.

c/o Postal Fraud Detective

Madison Post Office

Madison, WI 53703

SoftSpoken (Cross-Works)

P.O. Box 18343

Raleigh, NC 27619

(919) 870-5694

The RDC Full Cell

Phyllis Herrington, Tech Support; David Holladay, President; Aaron Leventhal, Software Development; Linda Millard, Bookkeeper; Susan Murray, Office Manager; Caryn Navy, Vice-President.

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 and then spell checked 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 IIgs, Apple Parallel Card; Macintosh, ProDOS, Super Serial Card; Claris Corp: AppleWorks; Arkenstone Inc.: Arkenstone Reader; Blazie Engineering: Braille 'n Speak; Hewlett Packard: Scan Jet; International Business Machines Corp.: IBM-PC; Ohtsuki Corporation: Ohtsuki Brailler; Orange Micro: Grappler Card; RC Systems: SlotBuster Card; Raised Dot Computing, Inc.: BEX, ProDOS Bridge; SoftSpoken: Cross-Works; TeleSensory: Navigator, VersaBraille Classic, VersaBraille II, VersaBraille II Plus; WordPerfect Corporation: WordPerfect.

Production Notes

Written & edited with RDC's BEX on an Apple IIgs. BEX commands changed to RTF/Interchange format control words with BEX's Contextual Replace. File transfer with BEX and Hayes Smartcom II to an Apple Macintosh Plus. RTF commands interpreted and the spell checked by Microsoft Word 4.0. Pages composed with Aldus PageMaker 3.02, directly output on an LED printing system at Positive Impressions. Two track audio edition mastered on APH Recorder and copied on high speed Recordex 3-to-1 duplicators.