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Bookshare introduces new products for disabled readers
February 11, 2013 | 10:00 am

BookshareBookshare has developed two new digital products to help those with disabilities. Bookshare’s Web Reader and Bookshelf were announced at the Assistive Technology Industry Association conference, held January 30 through February 2 in Orlando, Fla. The products were created to help those with impairments such as learning disabilities, physical disabilities or low vision. The Web Reader will allow Bookshare members to open books, including NIMAC textbooks, in a browser without the need of any downloads or separate software. The Web Reader is compatible with Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer 9 and above. Web Reader allows individuals to adjust font size, colors and display format....

The Hospital: Where paper—not tech—still rules
November 6, 2012 | 10:30 am

My mother is home at last after a week in the hospital recovering from major surgery. I'm glad she's at last on the mend, but I was struck by how tech-free her whole recovery experience has been so far. From the time she checked into the hospital a week and a bit ago until I visited her back at home for the first time, I was struck by how gadget-free the whole experience had been. Here are some of the reasons why I think the hospital is one of those places where paper might reign supreme, even years into the future: 1....

Three users of Speak For Yourself apply to intervene in AAC app patent case
July 17, 2012 | 8:40 pm

I’ve lately covered the legal situation surrounding the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) iPad app Speak For Yourself, which is the subject of patent litigation from larger AAC companies. Concerned parent Dana Nieder, whose 4-year-old nonverbal child Maya uses the app, has blogged several times about the difficulties the lawsuit has caused, including the removal of the app from the iTunes store, and its possible future nonfunctionality, due to legal pressure by the patent holders. Up to this point, she and her family have largely been legal bystanders in the case. However, she now reports that her daughter Maya,...

Apple will reinstate AAC app Speak For Yourself if its developers win in court
June 28, 2012 | 5:15 pm

The Register reports that Apple will reinstate the AAC app “Speak For Yourself” if the speech therapists who made the app are able to win the patent lawsuit brought against them. Apple pulled the app several weeks ago as part of the ongoing dispute between two larger AAC device companies and the small start-up that created the app. Apple removed the app as a matter of policy, says The Register, as it always removes apps that are subjects of litigation to protect users from any potential legal consequences of using a possibly illegal application. There was no significance of...

Augmentative communication app Speak For Yourself pulled from iTunes store at patent plaintiff request
June 13, 2012 | 8:26 pm

A few months ago I wrote about the patent situation surrounding an app called “Speak For Yourself” that allows autistic and otherwise nonverbal people to communicate with others. A couple of companies who make much more expensive AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) devices are suing the makers of Speak For Yourself for infringing 100 of their patents. Dana Nieder, mother of a four-year-old nonverbal child named Maya, has updated her blog to note that thanks to the app, Maya’s communication skills with the app have improved dramatically over just a few weeks. But she also notes that, as...

Patent lawsuit threatens inexpensive iPad app to let autistic speak
March 28, 2012 | 11:15 am

speakforyourselfThe iPad can be great for letting people read, but it can be just as good for letting certain people speak. As I’ve previously mentioned, autistic, nonverbal, and otherwise disabled people who have trouble talking can make use of AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) apps to say the words they can’t say for themselves. However, today I learned about a legal battle shaping up against a popular $299.99 AAC app for the iPad called Speak For Yourself. Dana Nieder, parent of a 4-year-old nonverbal child and extremely satisfied user of Speak For Yourself, posts to her blog that a pair of...

Law student says long wait for digital versions of textbooks is discriminatory
July 3, 2011 | 12:41 pm

A partially sighted law student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia has filed a complaint against the school and six textbook publishers, reports the Times Colonist, over what he says is a discriminatory procurement system for students who need alternative textbook formats. For students to get an electronic copy of a textbook, they must first purchase the hardcopy and submit their booklist to the university. The university places a request for the alternate-format book to the publisher once the student has given them a booklist for all their courses. It may take up to eight weeks to get the book...

Digital and Higher Education
May 27, 2011 | 9:42 am

A study sponsored by the Pearson Foundation for Harris Interactive surveyed 1,214 college students and 200 high-school seniors heading to college.  More than two-thirds of them showed overwhelming interest in tablet devices, and believed that tablets would transform higher education. Interestingly, this same pro-tablet group largely did not own tablets: Only 7 percent of college students had a tablet, and only 4 percent of the high school students owned one.  Yet almost half those surveyed believed that digital textbooks would replace print textbooks in colleges within five years. Of those who owned tablets, 73 percent liked digital formats over print; only 32...

New choices and access methods for the print-disabled
December 22, 2010 | 10:58 am

NFB_Logo.gifFrom the press release: NFB-NEWSLINE®, a free audible newspaper service for blind and print-disabled people, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress (NLS) today announced the launch of an exciting new access method, the NFB-NEWSLINE® NLS DTB Downloader. This breakthrough access method will allow subscribers to easily download their favorite publications to the book cartridges used in the new Digital Talking Book (DTB) players provided to patrons by NLS. Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), said: "NFB-NEWSLINE® has made groundbreaking advances in the past several...

Elsevier Enables its e-Books to Read Aloud, Increasing Access for People With Print Disabilities
December 8, 2010 | 9:04 am

images.jpegFrom the press release: Elsevier, the world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and solutions, announced today that it has enabled the text-to-speech option on all of its ePub book titles. The text-to-speech function enables an e-book to read aloud. This will facilitate access by readers who would otherwise face a range of access challenges through blindness, dyslexia, or motor difficulties. With 10-15% of the global population struggling with some form of print disability, the accessibility of publications is essential to open up access for a broad array of people. Text-to-speech enables access by people with disabilities who might otherwise...

Speech therapy uses ereaders
November 25, 2010 | 1:41 pm

speechtherapy_by-gary-porter.jpg Reading devices help people with strokes, neurological disabilities In the picture are Chrissy Akers (left), a graduate student in speech pathology, and Tina Puglisi-Creegan, a clinical instructor, who are helping Tom Calteux "relearn the reading process with the aid of a Kindle years after having a stroke.  Although he never lost his ability to write, the part of his brain that makes the connection between letters and comprehension was damaged." Harvey Black, writing for the Journal Sentinel, feels that "The Kindle and the iPad are in many ways the face of today's communication technology" and that there's "more to these devices than...

To disabled, iPads offer versatility, affordability as assistive devices
November 18, 2010 | 8:15 am

iPads may be great for a number of forms of reading, but it is turning out they also make great assistive devices for the disabled. The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a story about Owen Cain, a boy with a degenerative disease who is finding the iPad is improving his life considerably. Thanks to the iPad and both specialized and general-purpose applications, Cain can read books while barely able to move his fingers. Furthermore, the multi-purpose iPad is considerably less expensive than a lot of single-purpose assistive medical devices, which can cost between $2,000 and $6,000. Not only does the...

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