2001 Conference Proceedings

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FIELD TESTING THE UNIVERSAL ACCESS COPIER SYSTEM AT THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR THE BLIND

Mark M. Uslan
American Foundation For The Blind
New York, NY
www.afb.net

K. Eghtesadi, Ph. D.
Pitney Bowes, Inc.
Shelton, CT

In early 1998, Pitney Bowes Office Systems, the division of Pitney Bowes, Inc. that manufactures fax machines and copiers for mid- and large-size companies and organizations, announced that it was developing a Universal Access Copier System (UACS). Designed to meet the needs of a variety of users including people with visual impairment, ambulatory disabilities, print handicaps (such as dyslexia or other learning disabilities), as well as people without disabilities--the UACS incorporates speech recognition technology, a large touch-screen interface, a computer keyboard with voice output, braille labeling, and a control panel that is lower than conventional office copiers. The UACS is designed for use by a company or organization that does high volume of photocopying.

Field Testing at the American Foundation for the Blind

In the spring of 1998, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) received a pre-production model of the UACS from Pitney Bowes to beta test. In the fall, the unit was upgraded to a production model, ready for field testing. The unit was placed in AFB's Information Center, a work setting in which a photocopy machine was used extensively by five staff members (one with total blindness and one with low vision), as well as by visitors, some of whom were blind or had low vision.

In a one-month field-test the UACS replaced the Information Center's photocopy machine. In addition, 17 AFB staff (6 blind, 9 sighted, 2 with low vision) were interviewed about the need for photocopying and 16 (5 blind, 9 sighted, 2 with low vision) were voice trained on the UACS and results were noted. It was concluded that the UACS is a major improvement in access to photocopying for users for are sighted, blind, or have low vision.

In the summer of 2000, the UACS was upgraded and enhanced with the following new features and capabilities:

  1. The voice enrollment process was enhanced, simplified, and sped up.

  2. Additional voice output messages that provide operational information were added.

  3. User interface features were improved.

  4. A large print operational manual was developed.

  5. The UACS was upgraded with the latest version of the screen reader, WindowEyes.
Recognizing that the field test was small in scale and that the UACS was new to the marketplace, it was decided that a follow-up field test should be conducted. The follow-up will include re-interviewing AFB staff, voice training and users' reactions to photocopying, an evaluation of the UACS user's manual which was in prototype form in the earlier field test, and phone interviews with personnel at organizations that purchased the UACS. Results of the follow-up field test will be shared at the presentation.

References

Uslan, Mark M. (1999). A Review of the Pitney Bowes Universal Access Copier System. Journal
of Visual Impairment and Blindness, April, 1999.


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