2000 Conference Proceedings

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Determining the Role of a Notetaker In A Person’s Adaptive Technological Experience

Larry L. Lewis, Jr.
Blindness Products Manager
HumanWare, Inc.

I. Welcome and Introduction

II. What is a notetaker?

A portable device which provides to the person who is blind a means by which he/she can organize data relevant to his/her personal, educational, or vocational activities. An adaptive speech and/or Braille product that can link a person who is blind to technology without assuming the role of a commercial PC.

III. What purposes should notetakers serve, and how do they differ from those fulfilled by a PC?

Often a notetaker assumes the role of a pen and paper (time is of the essence). A notetaker is a portable, non-threatening means of being introduced to adaptive technology. In turn, a person who uses a notetaker does not only gain the confidence necessary to utilize a commercial PC, but he/she then develops the ability to incorporate the use of a notetaker into his broadened technological skill set.

IV. What are the specific functions a reliable notetaking option should embrace?

A notetaker should offer a quick and efficient way to enter data which can be retrieved, reviewed, printed, or embossed at a later date. A notetaker should give to the end user the flexibility to perform scientific and standard calculations. A notetaker should allow an individual to record appointments for himself/herself in a chronological manner. It is advantageous to have a feature that will remind the user of these appointments. A notetaker should provide an intuitive means of recording and retrieving names, addresses, telephone numbers, and other pertinent contact information. A notetaker should have the ability to connect to an Internet service provider to send and receive e-mail. A notetaker should offer utilities that enable it to interact with a commercial PC.

V. What features should an end user look for when selecting a notetaker?

A. Ergonomic comfort B. Portability C. Documentation in both Braille and/or speech medium D. A palatable user interface E. A company that stands behind and supports the product

VI. Conclusions

It should not be the user’s intent that a notetaker is the "end all, be all" for adaptive technology. Nor, should an end user minimize the significance of incorporating the use of a notetaker into his/her daily activities. A person should analyze how a specific notetaking option is or isn’t going to meet his/her needs before committing to a specific notetaker. A notetaker that is right for an end user will offer a great deal of flexibility and compatibility when interacting with sighted peers in both educational and vocational arenas as well as other meaningful endeavors.


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