[Nfbc-info] Fw: New toys for us

Jim Barbour jbar at barcore.com
Wed Dec 16 06:08:41 UTC 2009

Hey Jennifer (and list),

It's sort of unclear if you're requesting comments on these news
stories, but since i have some opinions to share, here they are.

First, the ClickAndGo systems sounds like a wonderful travel
experience.  I'd love to have something like this to navigate through

However, I think it will be expensive for them to build up a large
number of maps.  As I understand it, from reading their web site, they
send an O&M specialist out to scope out the routes and narrate them.
It can make for a great experience, but map development will likely be
very expensive.

My real objection to this service is that they are trying to convince
(I would say hoodwink) businesses into believing that they are out of
ADA compliance if they don't offer a service like this, and therefore
businesses should pay to develop narratives.

Finally, they don't seem to have a very high opinion of blind travelers.
Implying several times on their web site that a blind person will
choose not to travel an unknown route unless an O&M instructor
familiarizes them with it first, or they are using Click and go.

As for the Kindle story, it's a very promising and exciting
announcement.  However, it leaves out lots of kindle functionality
such as text highlighting, book mark navigation, online dictionary,
and Internet searching.

It's tempting to shrug and say that some of these features aren't
really necessary for blind folks, since we can just use a laptop.
However, it is truly the combination of all of these features that
make the Kindle the powerful new tool that sighted students will be
able to use.

Finally, let me say that I do have a lot of hope for O&M technology
and ebook reading for us blind folks.  I think we're seeing a lot of
rapid advancement.  As we see these advancements coming along, we
should look at them and make sure that they help provide a strong,
independent future from the blind, and not just a small amount of

Have an Awesome Evening,


On Tue, Dec 15, 2009 at 05:25:38PM -0800, Jennifer Boylan wrote:
> --- On Sun, 12/13/09, Jack Varnon <aw.varnon at yahoo.com> wrote:
> From: Jack Varnon <aw.varnon at yahoo.com>
> Subject: Fw: New toys for us
> To: "z.Judy R Hamilton" <jrhamilton51 at earthlink.net>
> Date: Sunday, December 13, 2009, 1:53 PM
> FYI and to share with others.
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> A cutting edge navigation tool that promises to make travel much easier and 
> offer a lot more independence for blind and deaf-blind travelers was 
> launched at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference 
> October 29 through 31 in Chicago, Ill.
> The system is called ClickAndGo Wayfinding Maps and it offers detailed 
> narrative route descriptions that help vision impaired people successfully 
> find their way to unfamiliar destinations. The maps are free to users and 
> can be accessed by telephone.
> "This is modeled after the popular "directions? feature of Yahoo, Google, 
> and MapQuest maps," said inventor and mobility specialist Joe Cioffi, who 
> has 28 years experience teaching blind and deaf-blind clients white cane 
> techniques. "With Internet maps, sighted users select a starting point and 
> destination from a drop-down menu and then click "go" for driving 
> directions.
> "We adapted ClickAndGo Wayfinding Maps by adding the options of voice output 
> or Braille that literally walks blind and deaf-blind people through the 
> route to the destination with customized "mobility-friendly? walking 
> directions," Cioffi said.
> Rather than depend on strangers for directions, blind ATIA Conference 
> attendees picked up a telephone or will use a computer to access a website, 
> give their point of origin and destination, and hear specific directions to 
> help them find their way independently to the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel 
> and Convention Center?s registration desk, interior restaurants, ballrooms 
> and function rooms, restrooms, guide dog relief areas, and other 
> destinations.
> A caller may hear, for example: "After entering through the main doors, the 
> flooring changes from carpet to tile. There are two elevators along the 
> right side wall, 25 feet away. The elevator call button is located between 
> the 2 elevators. Enter and press floor 2. Exit on floor 2 and walk straight. 
> In 10 feet you will reach entry doors separating the elevator foyer from the 
> main hallway. After these doors, walk straight 5 feet and turn right. You 
> are now facing a 20 foot wide hallway, and straight ahead in 70 feet you 
> will reach the double doors of the hotel ballroom."
> The directions can be downloaded on a notetaker for later access.
> ClickAndGo Wayfinding Maps are mainly intended to help vision impaired 
> travelers more easily orient themselves and move through airports, schools 
> and universities, hotel and convention centers, public parks, amusement 
> parks, tourist destinations, and other public places. But Cioffi also offers 
> customized narrative walking directions for outdoor landmark-to- landmark 
> route travel. All directions and point of interest information can be 
> downloaded through ClickAndGoMaps' fully accessible website as both web 
> pages and MP3 downloads, or obtained by using the company?s voice activated 
> technology with a standard telephone.
> The system has been praised by users such as Ken Rodgers, who is blind and a 
> Master's candidate at Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of 
> Minnesota, and the Past Minnesota Chapter President of the American Council 
> of the Blind. Rodgers said the system offers a level of detail that is 
> unparalleled by any other service or technology today.
> "The CickAndGo narrative mapping technology is absolutely phenomenal!" said 
> Rodgers who tested the product at the University. "It's easy to use and will 
> revolutionize the way I find unfamiliar destinations without the fear of 
> getting lost. Talk about maintaining my independence! "
> Cioffi is the owner of InTouch Graphic which also produces tactile/low 
> vision maps for people who are blind and vision impaired. ClickAndGo 
> Wayfinding Maps will be offered free to users. Cioffi is hoping to market 
> the product to participating institutions such as airports and hotels that 
> wish to accommodate their customers as well as comply with the Americans 
> with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The ADA offers some tax incentives and 
> under certain conditions, reimburses businesses up to $15,000 for 
> adaptations that encourage accessibility of public accommodations.
> For more information, contact Cioffi at 612-220-6657.
> ~1~
> Amazon's Kindle to get audible menus, bigger font
> By Jessica Mintz
> Associated Press
> Posted: 12/07/2009 01:55:11 PM PST
> Updated: 12/07/2009 03:47:24 PM PST
> SEATTLE - <http://Amazon. com>Amazon.com will add
> two features to the Kindle e-book reader to make
> the gadget more accessible to blind and vision-impaired users.
> Monday's announcement comes a month after
> Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y., and the
> University of Wisconsin-Madison said they would
> not consider widely deploying the device as an
> alternative to paper textbooks until Amazon makes
> it easier for blind students to use. Both
> universities bought some Kindles to test this fall.
> The Kindle has a read-aloud feature that could be
> a boon to blind students and those with other
> disabilities including dyslexia, but turning it
> on requires navigating through screens of text menus.
> Amazon said Monday it is working on audible
> menus, which would let the Kindle speak menu
> options out loud. It's also working on an
> extra-large font for people with impaired vision.
> The additions should reach the Kindle next summer, Amazon said.
> Chris Danielsen, a spokesman for the National
> Federation of the Blind, said Monday that the
> organization doesn't know enough about the new
> features to say whether they adequately address
> concerns of the blind community. But, he said,
> it's a good sign Amazon is expressing commitment to improve the Kindle.
> Amazon released this year the $489 Kindle DX, a
> large-screen model aimed at textbook and
> newspaper readers. Several colleges including
> Arizona State University are testing the gadget
> this academic year and sending feedback to the company.
> The federation for the blind, which is based in
> Baltimore, teamed up with another advocacy group,
> the American Council of the Blind, to sue Arizona
> State in an attempt to block it from using the
> Kindle as a way to distribute electronic
> textbooks because the devices can't be used by blind students.
> It also filed complaints with the Justice
> Department against five other schools
> participating in the Kindle trial with Amazon:
> Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, the
> Darden School of Business at the University of
> Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Pace University
> in New York, Princeton University in Princeton,
> N.J., and Reed College in Portland, Ore.
> Syracuse University and the University of
> Wisconsin were not among the pilot-test schools.
> Danielsen declined to comment when asked if
> Amazon's proposed changes would lead the federation to abandon its
> complaints.
> 2~~
> Just in time for christmas!
> Just in time for that New Year's party!
> Jump right on over to the ACB Store and hit a bull's eye with the brand new
> Audio Dart Master!
> We all had a great time playing audible darts at the 2007 Minneapolis
> convention in the Recreation Zone. Only problem was that it was impossible
> to buy a talking dart board that voiced everything the blind player needed
> to know about his game.
> The new Audio Dart Master talks, and it talks everything you need to hear.
> Lots of options and lots of games; perfect for home, schools, rehab centers,
> or even dart leagues.
> https://www. acb.org/cgi- bin/acart/ acart.pl? &page=products90 0-recreation. htm&session=!SESSION!
> Visit the ACB Store now and follow the Recreation and Leisure link to check
> out this fantastic product. We got a chance to try it out at the Kentucky
> Council of the Blind convention last month, and it was the hit of the
> exhibit area.
> When you purchase an Audio Dart Master, dart board stand, and Audio Dart
> Master Customization through the ACB Store, you get a great game are
> supporting ACB at the same time.
> So check it out and let's start having lots of fun with audible darts.
> ~~4~~

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