2003 Conference Proceedings

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Dan Weirich
GW Micro
725 Airport North Office Park
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
Phone: 260-489-3671
Fax: 260-489-2608
Email: Dan@gwmicro.com

Often, people who are blind receive computer systems and have no clue how to use them. This might be a system purchased by an agency for the individual or one that they purchase themselves. Most people who purchase a computer are able to read the manuals that come with the system and can proceed on their own with a minimum of assistance. However, this is a real problem for people who are blind because all the materials that come with an off-the-shelf system are in print and therefore inaccessible. Sometimes the materials are on CD but without a knowledge of how to do the basics this is no help at all.

In our travels around the country and at different tradeshows we have found in talking with others in our industry that this is a widespread problem. It isn't just a problem for screen readers and learning to use them but for all adaptive equipment. We decided it was time to take a hard look at this problem and to come up with an economic solution for our customers.

Window-Eyes now comes with a talking installation making it easy for a customer to install. We also provide a 6 hour tutorial in several formats. This helps a lot but really doesn't completely address the problem. Many want more hands-on help and for someone to guide them in the beginning. Nothing is like having someone watchwhat you are doing and make suggestions and give you individual help. So, after much research here is how the new Window-Eyes regional training works.

We contacted several leaders in the training arena for people who are blind. After looking at their materials we decided on what we thought was an ideal plan. We consulted with Ms. Cathy Ann Murtha who helped us to create a curriculum for our training. Here is what the training includes.

This is a one or two day training. The first day is a beginner class which covers the basics of windows and Window-Eyes and some travel on the internet. The second day is in much more detail and covers many advanced features. In order to enroll for the second day the student must take a simple test if not enrolled in day one to make sure that they know the basics. This assures that all involved are near the same level.

The classes will be held regionally around the US, and our plans are to expand internationally in the future. The cost of the classes is $250.00 per day if the student provides their own computer and $350.00 per day if we provide the computer system. The class will be limited to ten people. After completing the class each student will leave with a CD for each day that they complete plus a certificate of completion. The CD will contain the complete class in text, HTML and MP3. With these materials the student will be able to go back and review at any time. We feel that this training will provide what is necessary forpeople who are blind to get the most out of windows and Window-Eyes. For more information you may check out our web page at http://www.gwmicro.com and even register online.

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