2004 Conference Proceedings

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"I'VE GOT MAIL!!! HOW DO I GET IT?"

Presenters
Kathy L. Reed
OCCK. Inc.
1710 W. Schilling Road
Salina, KS 67401
Phone: 785-827-9383
Email: kreed@occk.com

Janice M. Fouard
OCCK. Inc.
1710 W. Schilling Road
Salina, KS 67401
Phone: 785-827-9383
Email: jfouard@occk.com

The Internet is a special technology that has moved from chiefly academic, business, and military use to being an integral part of our lives. Through the Internet, you can take advantage of a wide range of services without leaving your home. You can access libraries that are otherwise inaccessible to you because of transportation and architectural barriers or because of a difficulty with manipulating books or reading print.

There are many tools available to assist with computer access for people with disabilities such as alternate mice and keyboards and voice input. However these tools do not allow people who cannot read access to the Internet

Everyone wants to be part of the "You've Got Mail" generation. The new software tools available for individuals who can't read, talk or cognitively understand the mainstream email programs make it possible to connect to friends and family via email.

This session will demonstrate and discuss the features of the programs currently available to assist people with disabilities through the email maze. Some of the programs to be demonstrated include Inter_Comm by Widgit Software Ltd. offering a pictorial email program for non-readers, Web Trek by AbleLink Technology featuring audio-email and IcanEmail by RJ Cooper and Associates, which requires NO reading because it talks.

Each program has a uniqueness of it's own and can be adapted to the user. The Inter_Comm program, from Widgit Software Ltd allows the user to log on to email by clicking on their own photograph. From here they can read incoming mail that can automatically be converted into symbols for easy reading, address an email by clicking on a photograph or symbol of the person they wish to contact, and compose email by clicking pictures. To view their email as pictures the user needs to have the Writing With Symbols and Inter_Comm software. Writing with Symbols 2000 is a versatile program that gives users the ability to read and write with the same symbol set. Speech feedback emphasizes the connection between words and pictures, and a talking word processor connects spoken words with written words.

IcanEmail, from RJ Cooper & Associates is a simple, powerful, full-screen, talking email program. It has been designed for users with cognitive, visual and physical challenges. It allows the user to operate in a sequential manner by asking one question at a time, such as; who the message is intended for or if you want to speak the message. It requires very little reading because it talks the user through each step. IcanEmail allows the user to send and receive mail from other users on their system. This can be done without using the Internet.

Web Trek Connect, from AbleLink Technologies, provides a simplified multimedia interface for both receiving and sending email. The user's inbox is displayed with an enlarged list that shows the picture and name of the sender. The user needs only to click on the sender's picture to initiate the built-in screen reader, or to automatically play an attached audio recording. There are several options available to read email depending on the users abilities. For example, the text of an email can also be displayed while the screen reader vocalizes the content.

The programs will be demonstrated giving the audience a chance to see how they work and visualize in their minds users who could benefit from these programs. By using one of these programs, it is now possible for individuals with cognitive, reading, or physical challenges to enjoy email. Various peripherals to accommodate computer access will also be shown. The audience will have the opportunity to discuss pros and cons on the different aspects and accessibility features of each program. Tutorials and handouts will be available to participants.

These programs with a variety of access methods are currently being used with individuals in OCCK's Assistive Technology Lab and the successes and problems encountered will be shared with the participants.

"Computer and Web Resources for People with Disabilities", The Alliance for Technology Access, 3rd Revision, 2000

R.J. Cooper & Associates
27601 Forbes Road, #39
Laguna Higuel, CA 92677

AbleLink Technologies, Inc.
528 N. Tejon St., Ste 100
Colorado Spring, CO 80903

Mayer-Johnson, Inc.
P.O. Box 1579
Solana Beach, CA 92075-1579


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