2000 Conference Proceedings

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The Many Facets of Open Book: Ruby Edition

James R. Fruchterman, President Arkenstone, Inc.

Optical Character Recognition is a critical part of adaptive technology for people who cannot read print easily: people with vision and learning disabilities. Reading systems with OCR allow many people with disabilities to read independently and effectively, providing access to a wide range of documents. Arkenstone's Open Book reading software is the most widely used reading product for people with low vision and blindness, with over 25,000 users worldwide reading in a dozen languages. The newest version of Open Book, the Ruby Edition, is the most extensive Open Book upgrade since the introduction of Open Book, the first talking Windows product for the blind, in 1992. The Ruby Edition is a complete rewrite of the Open Book product and has many new characteristics of interest to visually impaired people and the professionals that serve them. This presentation will completely present the new Open Book, including user assessment, features, technology and future plans. Open Book delivers access to the world of printed documents to a wide range of users and abilities.

There are now a wide range of reading systems for users of differing needs and skill levels. The presentation will discuss assessing which reading system is the best match for a particular consumer's needs. There are different systems that focus on users with certain disabilities, or on users that either have or don't have PC experience. The capabilities of these systems and how they meet the needs of users will be covered. This presentation will focus on Open Book: Ruby Edition, which is designed for blind and low vision PC users.

The major features of the Ruby Edition will be explained and demonstrated. The new dual user interface will be demonstrated, showing both the new highly accessible standard Windows interface and the classic Open Book interface for beginning and existing users. Open Book has often served as a "first program" for beginning Windows users, and the new Windows interface provides an environment that delivers reading and allows for learning of standard Windows user interface elements. Editing and writing tools are new with Ruby, including a complete definitional dictionary, thesaurus and spell checker. Arkenstone has greatly expanded the range of low vision features in Open Book, including Arkenstone's exact view technology for the page image as well as extensive visual presentation options to make the scanned text accessible. The new Dual-OCR technology in the Ruby Edition will also be presented, including how Arkenstone got leading Optical Character Recognition engines from the U.S. and Russia together to provide the fastest and most accurate recognition available.

Ways to customize Ruby for the needs of different users will be presented, as well as discussing the use of reading systems in evaluation centers and educational institutions. In addition to getting a comprehensive demonstration of the latest version of Open Book, attendees will also get to hear the latest adaptive technology predictions of the presenter, as well as the opportunity to ask questions.


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